New York City opening first supervised injection sites in the United States

The first sites in the United States that allow narcotics users to inject drugs under the supervision of trained staff opened in New York City on Tuesday, a move aimed at stemming a surge in overdose deaths.

The city’s health department said two sites, both located in Upper Manhattan, may begin operations as of Tuesday. They are run by two existing Syringe Service Providers, organizations that offer a range of services including access and disposal of injection equipment.

“Overdose Prevention Centers are a safe and effective way to address the opioid crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the statement. “I’m proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible.”

“This is a watershed milestone in the fight to end overdose deaths in New York,” Melissa Moore, director of civil systems reform at Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), said in a statement. “If we want to save lives, reduce criminalization, and curb racial disparities, we need comprehensive, innovative, and forward-thinking approaches like Overdose Prevention Centers.”

Last year, overdose deaths in New York City jumped to more than 2,000, the highest number since tracking began in 2000. Nearly 600 people died in the first quarter of 2021, according to preliminary city data, the most in a single quarter.

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