Would Philly implement Vancouver's drug addiction treatment alternative?
In order to battle the number of overdose deaths and decrease crime rates related to drug trafficking, the city of Vancouver has created special facilities where heroin users could have easy and safe access to drugs. The strategy has run successfully for the past 13 years and is now being considered by Philadelphia as an alternative to the drug epidemic in the city.
And the landscape in Philly could have not been worse: 910 people died from overdose last year, more than 55,000 Philadelphians use illicit intravenous drugs and -according to DEA data, quoted by Philly.com- Kensington and Fairhill neighborhoods operate the “largest heroin markets” in the East Coast.
This is why the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic met with Sarah Evans, who worked as a manager in one of this facilities in Vancouver, to get a deeper understanding of Vancouver’s experience.
“[These places] prevent overdose deaths very well”, said Evans, and highlighted that since this site has been in operation, there have been around 3.5 million injections there, but no fatal overdoses, according to Philly.com.
Despite the proposal of having these facilities in Philly would face heavy opposition, the Mayor’s Task Force has already come up with a name for it: Comprehensive User Engagement Sites (CUES).
According to Philly.com, more than a hundred of these places exist around the world, most of them in Europe. Besides Philly, there are four more US cities evaluating this alternative: Baltimore, San Francisco, Ithaca and Seattle.