“The research showed … that one out of five sought treatment on their own, even though they were allowed to continue to drink themselves to death,” Curry explained. Even among those who didn’t seek help, “they weren’t dying anymore. Plus, there are no chronic inebriates on the street anymore,” he said.
Despite Seattle’s success with their chronic-alcoholic population, pushback on the safe-injection facility has been persistent. One opponent, identified only as Amy, spoke at the King County council meeting to share her story. Many of her friends had died from overdoses, but she saw those deaths as expected, saying, “That’s what happens. My concern is that when we say, ‘We’re going to make this easy, we’re going to make this safe,’ we are subtly saying, ‘This is okay,’” she explained to a reporter from The Atlantic. “There is some value in things being horrible.”
Canada has seen success with their safe-consumption sites. Studies have shown overdose deaths have decreased since Insite, a Vancouver-based safe-injection site, opened in 2003. Other research has shown that safe-injection sites overall do not impact neighborhood crime rates. Using the Canadian model, King County hopes to emulate their success and bring safe-injection sites to America.
Seattle is considering the validity of statements brought forth on both sides. Another woman described to The Atlantic why she supports safe-injection sites: she believes they’ll keep addicts safe and reduce the amount of drug paraphernalia on the streets. She believes that ultimately, the longer addicts are kept alive, the greater chance they have to turn their life around and seek treatment. “Addicts are not ready to enter treatment and get help until they decide they’re ready,” she said, “and safe-injection sites aim to keep them alive long enough to eventually get there.”
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