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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray tours Vancouver safe injection site

(City of Seattle)

Safe injection sites are among the proposed approaches to help solve the opiate crisis facing the region. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray crossed the Canadian border to learn how Vancouver implemented its injection sites.

Two sites have been recommended for the area — one in Seattle and another in King County (exact location to be announced). Meanwhile, Vancouver, B.C. has operated Insite for 13 years, a center where addicts can take drugs under the supervision of medical professionals and without fear of arrest. Mayor Murray wrote a blog post about his experience visiting the site, explaining his takeaways and how they can be transferred to Seattle.

Related: Task force urges Seattle, King County to establish safe injection sites

“Visiting Insite was eye-opening, and it reinforced our need to do what the science tells us to do when it comes to addressing the national crisis of addiction,” Murray writes.

Murray learned that since Insite was formed, it has tended to about 5,000 overdoses at its facility. Those overdoses were addressed by medical professionals on site, and according to the mayor, lives were saved. Murray notes that “there has not been a single fatality to date,” at Insite. He further says that the safe injection site acts as a point of contact to move addicts off drugs and into methods of recovery.

This success in keeping people alive means that the public health teams in Vancouver then have the opportunity to help people move into treatment as part of the continuum of care for people with substance abuse disorders.

Murray points out that there is a more “distributed model” recommended for the Seattle safe injection site, rather than a single location. He also wants to address the issue of female addicts being under-served by the program.

While Seattle, and King County has not officially adopted the proposal to establish safe injection sites, it seems that the mayor is in favor of getting such a program up and running in Seattle.

Ultimately, we as a city, a state and a nation need to do everything we can to help those facing substance abuse disorders and prevent others from experiencing addiction. Just last week, the Seattle Police Department was able to revive a person who had overdosed by administering Naloxone, the twelfth time they have done so successfully since the program was implemented this spring. But we have to do more.

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