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In a U.S. first, Seattle will open a ‘supervised injection center’ for heroin addicts


With heroin abuse reaching epidemic levels, Seattle is taking a radical step to address the crisis by creating supervised venues for users to take drugs.

Alexandria Arnold reports for Bloomberg BusinessWeek that the city in the western U. S. state of Washington will open the nation’s first “supervised injection center.”

The goal is to provide a safe, sterile environment for drug addicts. Users would have access to clean needles and medical care if they overdose, the article says. There also would be addiction treatment and other health services.

New York City is considering a similar approach. Vancouver, Canada’s Insite Center is the only municipally run drug center in North America, Arnold reports.

Seattle is struggling with a spike in heroin-related deaths, as well as a severe homelessness problem driven in part by the heroin epidemic.  Admissions to heroin treatment programs doubled from 2010 to 2014 regionwide. Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, tells Bloomberg that the city views substance abuse as a medical condition that should be viewed the same way as other chronic diseases like diabetes.

Bloomberg Businessweek

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