Philly Rocky

Philly officials weight options for safe injection sites

Faced with more than 100 overdose deaths a month, officials in Philadelphia are looking to open safe injection sites where addicts can shoot up in the presence of public health officials.

By no means a panacea, this effort is not without critics. As reported by WTOP, there are more questions than answers on how it would work and what it would look like, and if it could even legally get up and running.

“We know from other centers that they save lives,” Public Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in announcing the plans this week. “But it is complicated from a community perspective and it is complicated from a legal perspective.”

A look at some questions and answers:

WHY IS THIS BEING CONSIDERED?

Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate of any large U.S. city. More than 1,200 people fatally overdosed in Philadelphia in 2017, one-third more than 2016. This uptick follows the general surge in drug overdoses in the U.S. Nationally, deaths from drug overdoses skyrocketed 21 percent in 2016. The government figures released put 2016’s drug deaths at over 63,000. Two-thirds of the drug deaths — about 42,000 — involved opioids, a category that includes heroin, methadone, prescription pain pills like OxyContin, and fentanyl.

HOW DID PHILADELPHIA END UP IN THIS POSITION?

People travel from across the country for Philadelphia’s reputedly pure heroin. The center of the city’s opioid crisis is the Kensington neighborhood — the poorest neighborhood in America’s poorest big city. Empty factories there have created a prime locale for open-air drug markets and public transit and proximity to Interstate 95 allow buyers from outside the neighborhood easy access, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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To read more about the issues surrounding safe injection sites in Philadelphia, please visit WTOP.com.

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