The United States is reeling under an opioid crisis. Not only prescription drugs but also illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl are being abused by people across the U.S. A preliminary data compiled recently by The New York Times shows that drug overdose has become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 52 million people over the age of 12 in the U.S. have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetime.
While a number of steps have been taken by both government and non-government organizations to curb the opioid epidemic, it remains a harsh truth that the menace continues to grow and take many more lives. Some of the steps taken for reducing opioid overdose include raising awareness of opioid misuse, improving access to medically-assisted treatment, enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs and expanding the availability of naloxone.
Supervised injection facility: An unconventional solution
In addition to conventional approaches, some unconventional approaches have also been adopted to conquer the rising opioid epidemic. One such unconventional method is supervised injection facilities or safe injection facilities (SIFs). An SIF is a facility that allows people to openly shoot heroin and other drugs under medical supervision. SIFs have proved successful in preventing unsafe techniques and drug overdoses, providing information about the harmful use of drugs and reducing public disorders associated with illicit drug use.
While millions across the U.S. continue to suffer from drug use disorders, what has added to the problem is the availability of cheaper and more potent drugs. As per a recent report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, SIFs can save lives, reduce costs, improve health and facilitate engagement in treatment.
A radical new approach to the growing opioid epidemic, SIFs are being eyed in various states, including Philadelphia, Massachusetts and New York. Useful in reducing HIV and hepatitis transmission risks, SIFs provide sterile injection equipment, help prevent overdose deaths and increase the number of people entering the drug treatment facilities.
Resistance and objections
While few would dispute the nation’s growing opioid epidemic, critics of SIFs argue that rather than getting people off the deadly drugs, such facilities provide safe havens for those who want to abuse drugs. Some of the objections cited against opening up of SIFs include facilities not being cost-effective in reducing drug consumption, bringing more people with addiction into the neighborhood and increasing local crime rate.
Critics often point out that counseling and support in terms of imparting life-coping skills to those addicted to opioids are more helpful in treating addiction. According to them, instead of allowing a person to take a drug of choice, the cost should be directed toward rehabilitation and therapies.
Even as the debate is on over the use of SIFs, it is an open secret that addiction to harmful drugs can be treated with timely medical intervention. If a person is grappling with substance abuse, he/she should immediately seek professional help from a reputed mental health care provider. Remember that substance use disorders can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated.
Road to recovery
As a leading mental health care provider, Sovereign Health of Florida offers a comprehensive addiction treatment program that combines medically assisted detox followed by long-term treatment modalities, including FDA-approved medications and/or behavioral therapy methods. At our facilities, we offer comprehensive treatment programs for addiction, pain management, dual diagnosis and mental disorders, among others.
Sovereign Health of Florida’s multidisciplinary approach helps create individualized treatment plans uniquely suited to meet each of our patient’s treatment needs. For more information on addiction treatment offered at our facilities, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our representatives.