Follow the data, governor: sites for injections work

published on May 7, 2017 in Boston Globe

LAST SPRING, AFTER signing legislation aimed at curbing opioid abuse at a State House ceremony, Governor Charlie Baker broke down in tears.

Only after a swell of applause from a large crowd of legislators, law enforcement officials, and families of overdose victims was he able to speak. “May today’s bill passage signal to you that the Commonwealth is listening,” he said, “and we will keep fighting for all of you.”

“This work is published in the Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine,” said Dr. Thomas Kerr, a professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia who has studied the Vancouver clinic. “It doesn’t get tougher than that.”

The drug-injection sites have their critics, of course. The studies, however, rebut some of the most prominent objections. Intravenous drug use does not increase in the areas where clinics operate, the research shows. And opening a facility does not have a “honey pot” effect, drawing drug dealers and prostitutes to the area.

After studying six years of crime data for the area surrounding the Vancouver clinic, criminologist Neil Boyd told The Globe and Mail newspaper, “our detailed maps confirmed the hypothesis of no impact, no significant changes in relation to criminal offenses.”

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