BOSTON (CBS) — The Chairman of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s opioid task force says the group is pushing for safe injection clinics, where drug addicts could shoot up in the presence of medical personnel.
Dr. Dennis Dimitri told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens that safe injection clinics could save lives.
“In an ideal world, we would like nobody to be injecting illicit drugs like heroin, but we know that those behaviors go on,” Dr. Dimitri said. “A public health approach to reducing the harm associated with that, such as a safe injection facility, is a reasonable approach.”
He argued that life-saving practices such as needle exchanges and overdose reversal drugs like Narcan or Naltraxone, once controversial, are now part of the weaponry used to fight the opioid crisis on the public health front.
Dimitri said that, for certain marginalized groups that inject intravenous drugs, the facilities can result in fewer overdoses, a reduction in the spread of infectious diseases, and more people going into treatment.
“Often times, individuals who are homeless and otherwise have limited access to services, safe injection facilities have been shown to improve their ability to survive their addiction and get into treatment,” Dr. Dimitri said.
None of these safe injection clinics exist yet in the United States, but Dr. Dimitri said some may open soon in the state of Washington.
“Safe injection sites are one more idea in many that need to be put into place to address the current epidemic of overdose deaths,” Dr. Dimitri said.
The doctor said the group faces significant hurdles, because the clinics would require changes in both state and federal laws.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports