A new study suggests that safe injection sites, where people can inject heroin and other drugs, may reduce deaths from opioid-involved overdoses, The Associated Press reports.
Researchers evaluated an unofficial safe injection site that has observed more than 10,500 injections over five years. During that time, 33 overdoses have been treated, and none have been fatal, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Safe injection sites offer trained staff to administer naloxone in case of an overdose. The sites also can safely dispose of used needles, and offer resources for counseling and help with other health problems.
The location of the site in the study has not been revealed. Safe injection sites “could allow persons to link to other medical and social services, including treatment for substance use, and facilitate rigorous evaluation of their implementation and effect on reducing problems such as public injection of drugs and improperly discarded syringes,” the researchers wrote.
Opioids & IV Drug Use: Risks, Warning Signs & How to Help a Loved One
For loved ones who are using drugs via injection, the use of clean needles (including no needle sharing) is important to reduce the risk of HIV and hepatitis, as well as injection site infections. Mixing drugs, using high doses and using alone should also be avoided.