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Organization looks to fight opioid addiction, growing crisis in FLX

It’s time to do something about the growing opioid epidemic, which is sweeping across the U.S., impacting small communities as much as larger ones.

In response to New York State’s overdose and opioid epidemic, a coalition of healthcare professionals, public health experts, advocates, and people with a history of drug use are launching a statewide campaign calling for the creation of safer consumption spaces (SCS)/supervised injection facilities (SIF) where people can legally consume previously-purchased illicit drugs with supervision from peers and healthcare professionals who help make their use safer.

The 10-day tour features Safe Shape, a model of a safer consumption space and a screening of “Everywhere But Safe,” a documentary about public injection in NYS, followed by a panel and community conversation in the evenings. Tour sites will include cities that have been hard-hit by the overdose crisis: Albany, Poughkeepsie, New York City, Ithaca, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

Deaths from drug overdoses and chronic drug abuse in New York State have increased 71 percent between 2010 and 2015. In Tompkins County, there were 11 opioid overdoses in 2015, and preliminary 2016 data indicates:

  • More than 12 fatal overdoses (opioids and heroin) from January to June
  • More than 48 Emergency Department visits (opioids and heroin) from January to June

Advocates will urge elected representatives to consider safer consumption spaces (SCS)/supervised injection facilities (SIF) as an innovative harm reduction tool to prevent further disease and death in our communities.

Safe Shape Tour – Ithaca

What: Safe Shape is a traveling exhibit that demonstrates what a safer consumption space looks like and educates the public on the harm reduction philosophy and practice. The tour will also include a screening of “Everywhere But Safe,” a documentary about public injection in NYS.

When: May 2, 2017

Exhibit: Ithaca Commons- Bernie Milton Pavilion, 1:30pm-5:30pm

 Screening: Ithaca College- Hill Center 104, 7pm-9pm

953 Danby Rd Ithaca, NY 14850

Background

Nationally, there have been 500,000 opioid-related deaths between 2000 and 2015. In 2015 alone, opioid and heroin overdoses killed 52,404 people–more people than traffic accidents and homicides combined. In New York State, overdose deaths increase by 20.4% from 2014 to 2015. And emergency departments across the state saw 37,347 opioid-related outpatient visits (73.1% increase from 2010) and 75,110 opioid-related inpatient hospital admissions(3% increase from 2010) in 2014. Also due to increases in injection drug use, regions of New York have seen increases of 3% to 47% in new cases of hepatitis C since 2012.

To serve hard-to-reach communities across our state and to assure public health response to problematic substance use, we must provide a point-of-care intervention for people who use drugs that will provide all of the necessary harm reduction tools and resources within a safer consumption space. This includes:

  • Expansion of access to naloxone
  • Safer drug use equipment (e.g. syringes)
  • Drug treatment

Safer Consumption Spaces

Safer consumption spaces (SCS), also called supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are places where people can legally consume previously-purchased illicit drugs with supervision from peers and healthcare professionals who help participants to make their use safer. Internationally, SCS have been tremendously effective in reducing rates of HIV infection, HCV infection, and overdose deaths, as well as improving public order by reducing improper syringe disposal and decreasing drug arrests.

While SCS do not yet exist in the United States, there is a lot of interest and progress in opening safer spaces across the nation. Kings County in Washington State has been approved to open the nation’s first SCS, Maryland and Vermont have both introduced legislation to approve them, and California legislators have expressed interest.

Learn more: http://www.drugpolicy.org/supervised-injection-facilities

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