Mayor of Ithaca, NY Wants to Host Nation’s First Supervised Heroin Injection Facility

The mayor of Ithaca, New York says he wants his city to be the first in the United States to host a supervised injection facility for people who use heroin, the Associated Press reports. The facility would allow people to inject heroin under the care of a nurse, without getting arrested.

The mayor, Svante Myrick, is the son of a man who was addicted to drugs, the article notes. Myrick lived in a homeless shelter and went to Cornell University. Four years ago he became Ithaca’s youngest mayor, at age 24.

“I have watched for 20 years this system that just doesn’t work,” Myrick told the AP. “We can’t wait anymore for the federal government. We have people shooting up in alleys. In bathroom stalls. And too many of them are dying.”

Myrick said the injection facility would be part of a holistic approach to drug abuse in Ithaca that includes use of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. People addicted to drugs would be able to get clean syringes, while being directed to treatment and recovery programs, he said.

“I think for a lot of people this is going to sound like a weird concept — ‘Aren’t you just encouraging them to use drugs?'” he said. “But I think it’s more possible now than at any time in our history. The opioid epidemic is affecting more people and we know we can’t wait any longer for the federal government to do something.”

Myrick plans to ask New York’s Health Department to declare the heroin epidemic a state health crisis. This would allow Ithaca to open an injection facility without the approval of the state legislature, he said.

North America’s first government-sanctioned facility that medically supervises the injection of illegal drugs is located in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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    Angela Walker

    March 1, 2016 at 4:19 PM

    While it may appear compassionate to provide and support facilities where people can inject heroin safely, we should be spending money on prevention not recruitment. Public and private efforts at drug addiction/use and abuse has been amazingly lacking. While we have the likes of Sanjay Gupta of CNN touting the benefits of marijuan, no one is saying that using heroin or other opiates is beneficial. At least, no one is saying it loud enough.

    As heroin is coming in to the country from the middle east and even Afghanistan replacing prescripton opiates because physicians have cut back on prescribing the opiates, it is clear that there will be more heroin addiction.

    But, we must make the public aware of this problem. Rather than opening up heroin clinics, lets just put money into prevention. I recommend long acting naltrexone along with counseling and therapy.

    Although the mayor of Ithaca considers himself experienced and exposed to the community of addiction because of his family…so have I. I have seen the increased heroin trafficking since the Viet Nam war and beyond. I have seen 30 years as a physician taking care of addicts and their families.

    i do not believe that there is one solution to problem. It is a problem that needs various approaches. The one missing piece is that of prevention. Let’s get the word out to the Ithaca community

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    Jim Sharp

    February 24, 2016 at 8:32 PM

    Mayor Myrick is a visionary who has the moxie to put his reputation on the line for innovative approaches to address this community crisis.

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    Robert C

    February 24, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    Imagine this, a politician with reason. They’ve had these in Europe for years. Drug use has dropped, along with drug related crime. Get with it Amercia

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    Doug H.

    February 24, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    I think we need to implement more of these ideas. This doesn’t need to start on a national level, just let cities try these ideas, so we have many programs happening at once, then evaluate which ones work best. I was addicted to the strongest pain meds available, and used needles. Places like this would put me around professionals that can point addicts in the right direction for getting help. Most people don’t choose to continue their habit, but knowing where to start getting help is hard enough, let alone finding places that have vacancies. Want needles off the street and out of sight? This would be a solution. I think anything is worth a shot at this point.

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