New York City will consider providing heroin addicts and other users of intravenous drugs a place to get high with medical supervision.
The City Council is expected to allocate $100,000 for for a health department study of supervised injection facilities.
Seattle is the only city in the U.S. that has made moves toward opening such a facility. A task force there has issued a host of recommendations for such facilities, including the stockpiling of naloxone, which is used to treat heroin overdoses.
New York would study the feasibility of opening such facilities with money from a $5.6 million fund in its budget that is earmarked for fighting the AIDS epidemic.
“Supervised injection facilities around the world have been shown to reduce healthcare costs, decrease HIV and hepatitis B and C infection rates and prevent fatal overdoses,” council member Corey Johnson, chairman of the health committee, said in a news release. “With the creation of this study, the Council is continuing our history of leading on innovative strategies to end the epidemic and address drug abuse.”
Supervised injection facilities have opened in Europe and Canada. A study conducted by a group of Canadian researchers found that overdose deaths in Vancouver decreased 35 percent from 2001 to 2003 after a facility opened there, according to an article in the medical journal The Lancet.
Advocates of supervised injection argue that the facilities reduce the instances of shared needles by drug users and can function as a bridge between users and mental health specialists.
Heroin deaths in the city have escalated during the past five years, health department records show.