Can safe injection sites, prescription heroin help curb opioid epidemic?

Can safe injection sites, prescription heroin help curb opioid epidemic?

Opioids are among the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. Primarily used for their pain-relieving properties, their continued use leads to the development of physical dependence, addiction and overdose deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were approximately 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016. It further highlighted that over 20,000 fatalities occurred due to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids).

Despite all efforts against the epidemic, there has been a drastic increase in opioid abuse.  The menace of opioid crisis has multiplied to such an extent that the danger of losing the equivalent to an entire American city looms large on the U.S. Compared to guns, road accidents and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), more number of fatalities occur due to opioids.

By inflicting severe loss upon the family, the ripple effect of such fatalities is apparent in the society. With over 170 overdose deaths occurring on a daily basis in the U.S., mostly due to opioids, the need of the hour is to envisage effective remedial measures. Along the same lines, some of the innovative steps like regulation of prescriptions written by a doctor and establishment of safe injection sites have now started playing a major role in curbing the issue of opioid crisis in the U.S.

Guidelines for opioid prescription and safe injection sites

With the implementation of stringent measures against opioid misuse, a number of people have opted for other potentially dangerous drugs like heroin and fentanyl in the past few years. The other reasons for this switch include lower cost compared to prescription medications and alleviation of the withdrawal symptoms. However, the consumption of such illicit drugs worsens the condition and leads to the development of a much severe form opioid addiction. Moreover, people addicted to opioids are 40 times more likely to get addicted to heroin.

As mentioned above, one of the effective ways to control this problem is to deter doctors from overprescribing painkillers unless required. This will play a pivotal role in controlling opioid addiction. As a reformative measure, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) released a guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain in 2016. Moreover, numerous states like New Jersey have restricted the amount of opioids that a doctor can prescribe to patients. Since patients are often ignorant about the repercussions of painkillers, doctors need to apprise the patients about their addictiveness and other consequences.

A large number of people across the globe believe that safe injection sites could be one of the best ways to fight the opioid crisis. These sites monitor drug use among intravenous drug users. With such places proliferating in over 100 countries, many activists are pushing for similar changes in the U.S.

For instance, a person keen on using drugs walks into the facility carrying his or her own drugs that are tested for the presence of fentanyl. Once approved, he or she is allowed to inject the drug safely and quickly under the supervision of the competent medical staff. The staff closely monitors the steps and ensure users face no harms. Considering the absence of any overdose death at these sites, many consider it a safe option.

There are two opposite takeaways a user can have from these sites. One is to continue abusing the drugs at these sites and the other is the path of recovery. Directing users toward detox and drug treatment programs can make these sites a great way to connect individuals with the best paths to attain sobriety.

Road to recovery

Besides the above-mentioned reformative measures, other steps like easy availability of drug treatment can also help in decreasing the number of individuals addicted to opioids. The policymakers must ensure adequate awareness about the consequences of painkillers among people through educational campaigns and sessions. Once addicted to opioids, one needs to go through the process of detoxification for expunging dangerous toxins. The successful completion of this first step of treatment will make the road ahead easier.

If you or someone you know is addicted to any form of drugs and is looking for the state-of-the-art rapid detoxification centers, contact the Rapid Detox Helpline for help. Call at our 24/7 detox and treatment helpline 866-403-5591 or chat online with our experts to know about some of the best detox treatment centers in your vicinity.