For 3 Years, Addicts Have Been Shooting Up at Secret US Site

The illegal location is all part of a 'harm reduction' strategy to help reduce OD deaths
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2017 10:30 AM CDT
For 3 Years, Addicts Have Been Shooting Up at Secret US Site
What city the injection site is in is being kept under wraps.   (Getty Images/FotoMaximum)

Only a select few know where it is, but many more—including members of law enforcement—would like in on the secret. That secret, per the Washington Post, is a nonprofit's facility "somewhere in a US city" that for the past three years has been illegally serving as a place where people inject drugs, get clean needles, and have someone make sure they don't OD. The "unsanctioned site" in an "undisclosed urban area" was mentioned in a paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which notes that such sites are part of an overall "harm reduction" strategy on drug use. Epidemiologist Alex Kral says the nonprofit came to him to ask him to compile data, and he says he wasn't asked to give up the location by either the journal or the University of California-San Diego, which approved all activities.

The site, which operates five days a week for up to six hours daily, is only treating addicts who are known to workers. Per the paper, more than 100 users over a two-year period gave themselves nearly 2,600 injections—drugs used included heroin, meth, prescription opioids, and cocaine. Kral says since the site opened, four people have been saved from overdoses by staff administering naloxone. While the authors note that research shows supervised injection sites cut down on the number of OD deaths, slash the risk of HIV and other diseases from needle sharing, and reduce drug-related crime, law enforcement and community groups are wary. But Kral calls such an illegal site—which the Guardian calls "an act of public health civil disobedience"—a needed "innovation." "The whole country knows this is a crisis," he says. "We need some new solutions." (More drugs stories.)

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