Thursday, August 25, 2016

 

Proposed Seattle homeless shelter may allow residents to use heroin

As Seattle continues to battle its heroin crisis, a group tasked with addressing the issue is pushing an unconventional tactic for helping homeless addicts. 

The Task Force on Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction, formed by the city in March, has put its support behind building a shelter where homeless addicts could use heroin under supervision, according to The Seattle Times. 

Those who support such a facility say it could help prevent overdose deaths, HIV and hepatitis C transmissions and keep used needles off the streets. Taxpayers might benefit too, since the facility could potentially reduce public health services and criminal justice costs. 

The concept was first introduced by the People’s Harms Reduction Alliance, a group that organizes needle exchanges, The Times reported in April. The task force is expected next month to offer up a more fleshed-out plan for how the program would work. 

These discussions come at a time when heroin deaths are on the rise. 

In 2014, heroin-related deaths hit a 20-year high in King County: There were 156 heroin-related deaths that year, more than triple the number in 2009, according to government records.

Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of death among people who are homeless in the U.S., the medical journal JAMA concluded in a 2013 study. 

At the proposed Seattle facility, users would get clean needles and anti-overdose medications. They’d also get access to medical care and treatment opportunities, per the Times.

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