Vermont considers safe injection space for drug users

published on March 22, 2017 by Elizabeth Murray in Burlington Free Press

After an increase in opiate-related deaths last year, both local and state officials are  exploring “safe injection sites,” or sites where addicts can use intravenous drugs under supervision.

Advocates say the sites reduce harm and tackle addiction.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George is forming a task force of community leaders to understand the issues associated with the sites and whether the group should consider a site in Chittenden County.  George is hoping an opinion can be reached within three months, but she said the exact timeline will depend on what the task force believes it needs.

“Clearly it’s something that sounds scary and controversial, and I can certainly appreciate that,” George said. “Sometimes those scarier thoughts or scarier programs are the ones that make the most difference. … I have a duty to look at every option regardless of how scary it is.”

Task force members will include public safety, treatment, and health officials. The commission met for the first time Wednesday before a news conference.

“It has been very clear to me as a prosecutor, in general, the opioid crisis has just gotten worse and worse and regardless of all these great efforts we’re making and programs we’re implementing, it just doesn’t seem to be making a dent,” George said. She said she has been looking for new and innovative ways to attack the crisis “to honestly say we’re doing everything we can to combat it.”

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