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Providence To Open First Safe Injection Site Outside Of NYC

More than two years ago, Rhode Island became the first state to authorize overdose prevention centers, facilities where people are allowed to use illicit drugs under professional supervision. On Thursday, the Providence City Council approved the establishment of the state’s first so-called safe injection site. Minnesota is the only other state to approve these sites, also known as supervised injection centers and harm reduction centers, but no facility has opened there. While several states and cities have taken steps toward approving these centers, the concept has faced resistance even in more liberal-leaning states, where officials have wrestled with the legal and moral implications, the New York Times reports. The only two sites operating openly are in New York City, where then-mayor Bill de Blasio announced the opening of the first in 2021.

The centers use medical and social workers to guard against overdoses by supplying oxygen and naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug, and by distributing clean needles, hygiene products and tests for viruses.

Supporters say these centers prevent deaths and connect people with resources. Brandon Marshall, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health, said studies from other countries “show that overdose prevention centers save lives, increase access to treatment, and reduce public drug use and crime in the communities in which they’re located.” Opponents of the centers, including law enforcement groups, say they encourage a culture of permissiveness around illegal drugs, fail to require users to seek treatment and bring drug use into neighborhoods that are struggling with high overdose rates.


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