Two safe injection sites proposed for the Seattle area

Oct 3, 2016, 4:24 PM
safe injection sites...

The Seattle City Council was briefed Monday on a proposal for safe injection sites aimed at drug users in the region. The proposal is an attempt to mitigate the negative public effects of addiction in the area.

“A major recommendation was that we create, essentially, a location where people can use drugs they obtain, bring them into the facility, they can get clean supplies to use those drugs, and be monitored during that consumption — generally by an RN or a health care provider,” Dr. Caleb Banta-Green from the University of Washington told the council.

His argument is that the sites will cut down on public drug use, and therefore remove many of the negative effects on society such as dirty needles on the ground, overdoses and public use.

Can this drug help solve the opiate crisis?

The proposal is the product of the Heroin Crisis Task Force, which was formed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine. The task force is promoting one safe injection site in Seattle and one outside the city limits. On Monday, they made their case for why such safe injection sites are needed. According to Dr. Banta-Green, there were about seven million syringes traded in at King County needle exchanges last year – that equates to 19,000 each day.

“What we’ve seen so far, the evidence is that they will use less in public,” Dr. Banta-Green said. “There will be less public consumption. There will be less infection disease transmissions. And the evidence is pretty good that there will be less overdose deaths.”

Safe injection sites and the opiate crisis

Banta-Green notes that a survey conducted last year indicates two-thirds of users who are not in treatment want help to reduce their drug use. Safe injection sites are viewed as a resource to address that.

The opiate crisis is one that the Seattle region, and the United States, has not experienced at this level before. The modern epidemic of opiate and heroin addiction is often blamed on the rise of prescription medications, which act as a gateway for demographics that previously weren’t as likely to use.

“Some portion of people are predisposed to like opiates,” Dr. Banta-Green said. “They are the people, when they take opiates, get energized and say things like, ‘I felt normal for the first time in my life.’ Most people get nauseated, sleepy and don’t like them.”

“We are still at a point where about one in five adults is prescribed an opiate each year, and one in 10 adolescents is prescribed an opiate each year,” he said. “Most of them don’t use them all, and most of them keep them … Most of those people historically never had access to opiates, because you had to use heroin. There was fairly modest opiate prescribing 15 or 20 years ago. As opiate prescribing took off, the potential for people who are predisposed to like them, all of a sudden had access.”

The idea of the safe injection sites, proponents argue, is to act as a resource center for an increasing population of opiate addicts and aim them at methods of getting off of the drug.

“If you talk to people who inject drugs, they don’t want to be using in front of other people, they don’t want to be using in public, they don’t want to be using in parks,” Dr. Banta-Green said. “So I think that’s really where this idea of a community health engagement location comes from.”

KIRO Radio’s Chris Shaw contributed to this article.

Local News

Police vehicle fire, Seattle protest...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Tacoma woman pleads guilty to setting 5 Seattle police vehicles on fire during 2020 protest

A 26-year-old Tacoma woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the burning of five police vehicles in May of 2020 in downtown Seattle.
16 hours ago
COVID misinformation...
Nick Bowman

State commission warns of discipline for doctors who grant vaccine exemptions without ‘legitimate’ reason

A state commission stressed its opposition to COVID-related misinformation last week, threatening discipline for physicians who help it spread.
16 hours ago
Battle Ground tornado...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Tornado touches down in Southern Washington on Monday evening

The National Weather Service confirmed today that a weak tornado touched down near Battle Ground, Washington, on Monday evening.
16 hours ago
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Robocalls ‘are not going to go away’ even as new US law kicks in

New rules on robocalls kick in Tuesday, Sept. 28, but an advocate with WashPIRG says that doesn't mean the calls will stop entirely.
16 hours ago
Andrew Scheinthal, KIRO 7 News

Deputies: Murder suspect shot in Snohomish County after multi agency investigation

Members of the King County-based Valley SWAT team opened fire in a Snohomish County parking lot Monday, while pursuing a murder suspect.
2 days ago
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan budget...
Hanna Scott

New budget from Seattle mayor spends big on affordable housing, boosts funds for public safety

In the final budget proposal of her administration, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan lays out spending for $190 million on affordable housing.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Two safe injection sites proposed for the Seattle area