I stand with Voices of Community Activists and Leaders – Washington (VOCAL-WA) and Safe Consumption Space Coalition partners Real Change, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, and Capitol Hill Community Council in calling on the City of Seattle, King County, and Washington State government to take all necessary steps to authorize and establish supervised drug consumption facilities, also commonly called safe consumption spaces, as a public health intervention to reduce HIV and viral hepatitis transmission and overdose deaths, promote access to chemical dependency treatment and other supportive care, and increase public safety.
Supervised consumption facilities are controlled health care settings where people can more safely use pre-obtained drugs in a hygienic environment with access to sterile injecting equipment and under the supervision of trained care staff. Safe consumption spaces provide an array of support including health care, counseling, and referrals to health and social services, including drug treatment.
Numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies have proven the positive impacts of safe consumption and injection spaces. These benefits include:
- Increased access to drug treatment, especially among people who distrust the treatment system and are unlikely to seek treatment on their own;
- Reduced public disorder, reduced public injecting, and increased public safety;
- Reduced HIV and viral hepatitis risk behavior (e.g. syringe and other injection equipment sharing, unsafe sex) and bacterial infections (e.g. staph infection, endocarditis).
- Successful management of overdoses and reducing overdose deaths;
- Cost savings resulting from reduced disease, overdose, and need for emergency medical services, and increased preventive healthcare and drug treatment utilization;
- Not increasing community drug use, initiation into injection drug use, or drug-related crime.
Safe consumption spaces are a vital part of a comprehensive public health approach to reducing the harms of drug use. Safe consumption spaces, of course, cannot prevent all risky drug use or related harms. However, evidence demonstrates that they can be remarkably effective, generate cost-saving, and improve the lives of people who use drugs and the safety and health of our communities.
I believe that the lives of people who use drugs matter. I support safe consumption spaces in Seattle, King County, and Washington State.