Column: Opioid Epidemic and “Safe Injection Sites”

The ongoing opioid epidemic has tragically taken the lives of thousands of New Yorkers as 1,487 of our family members, classmates, and neighbors fatally overdosed last year alone. 2017 was the seventh consecutive year that the rate of opioid deaths increased.

While this is a citywide issue, no borough has been hit harder than ours where both the number and the rate of overdoses is the highest. The Bronx is suffering and we must do something to help those in need.

Often times those who get addicted are not criminals looking for drugs. They are everyday people who get prescribed medication by doctors legally and simply get overpowered by the strength of the pills. With well over a million oxycodone prescriptions filled by New Yorkers each year since 2010 there is no immediate end in sight to this crisis.

Now, as a result of current conditions, the city administration is going to set-up four “safe injections sites” where users can do drugs under medical supervision. One of the four will be in the Longwood section of the Bronx.

While this is a well-intentioned concept, it is not the right answer to this problem.

Instead of working to help get people off drugs, this plan will only enable and encourage them to continue using. Injection sites will do nothing but help people poison themselves and expose communities to these drugs.

By doing this our city is throwing in the towel and admitting defeat. Instead of looking to end the epidemic, injection sites can do no more than attempt to limit the number of deaths.

We must get ahead of this issue. We must be proactive and not react with desperation. We must invest in rehab facilities and give people the information and resources that they need to combat their addiction. It is also critical that naloxone, the drug that counters the harm caused by the opioids, be made more readily available and easy to access so that we can save more lives. Most importantly, we must do a better job of educating our youth on the risks and dangers of opioids.

“You can only get out of a community that which you put into it”-Councilman Mark Gjonaj

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