A nonprofit organization named Safehouse has drawn fire from federal prosecutors, who have finally made good on their threats of taking action to shut it down. Last Wednesday, February 6, prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit cooperatively with the Department of Justice.
Safehouse provides a place for drug users to inject their drugs “safely,” in the presence of certified medical professions who can react and assist if a person has an adverse reaction to the drug. If approved to operate, it would be the first such legal site in the United States, although rumors of similar sites in large cities have existed in the treatment injury for the past few years.
Canada began allowing safe injection sites nearly 20 years ago. Having professionals on-site give the addicted a safety net if a drug is tainted or they overdose from taking too much. Injection sites help people inject in a clean, safe environment without the hazards of a traditional flophouse.
Narcan, an overdose-reversing drug, is kept on-site in plentiful supply. Cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, free needles, and other items to help injections remain safe and sterile are also used by these type of nonprofits to prevent disease and overdose.
Many people who use the injection sites have anecdotes of being able to maintain their homes, jobs, and family life because they have a “stable” and safe place to use the drugs they are addicted to. Counselors are also available on-site, willing to help their clients at safe injection sites find drug inpatient or outpatient drug treatment and assisting clients to plan a safe detox.
The Pennsylvania lawsuit is the first such challenge to safe injection sites in America. Recently, over a dozen cities that have been hard-hit by the opioid crisis have considered similar proposals to prevent overdoses.
The lawsuit against Safehouse came in the midst of their fundraising drive as they search for an accessible and suitable building to start their venture. Depending on the lawsuit’s outcome, they may have to halt their plans so they can meet the challenges in court.