Rhode Island could become the first state in the union to allow safe injection sites for illicit drugs under a bill passed by lawmakers late last week. Under the legislation, the state would authorize a two-year, pilot program for the operation of “harm reduction centers” where overdose prevention and other drug intervention services would be available.
Safe injection sites provide a medically supervised location where people can inject illegal drugs, including heroin, without fear or arrest. The sites are staffed by personnel trained to offer advice on safe injection practices, provide sterile supplies and monitor for signs of overdose. Staff does not provide, handle or inject drugs.
“The opioid epidemic has become a tremendous public health crisis, with overdoses of prescription and non-prescription opioids claiming a record number of lives,” Representative John Edwards said about the legislation. “Not only do harm reduction centers severely mitigate the chance of overdose, they are a gateway to treatment and rehabilitation of people with substance abuse disorder. These locations will be under the supervision of trained medical staff who can direct addicts toward substance use disorder treatment. It’s a way to tackle this epidemic while saving lives in the process.”
More than 100 safe injection sites have