There are people proposing the creation of safe injection sites to stop the deaths from opioids, and I understand why they would propose them.

The idea behind a safe injection site is that a person addicted to street drugs will go into the site and administer the drugs to themselves. This is the moment at which the addict is likely to overdose and die, particularly if they are alone. At the safe site, there would be medical professionals to administer care if an addict started to overdose. Rather than dying, the addict would live and then possibly decide to get sober.

In addition to medical professionals, the safe site would also have addiction and life counselors to help the addict. The addicts could make the choice to enter a detox and recovery program through the advice and guidance of the counselors.

I agree that it is worth trying to save peoples lives, and that a dead person has no ability to change their course in life. It is better to try to keep people alive.

However, there are a few problems with safe injection sites I can think of off the top of my head:

1. Location: What community or neighborhood is going to want this in their backyard? This is a real consideration and should not be taken lightly. Why should a person who has invested their life savings into a property have to have a magnet for drug addicts next door to them? Drug addicts are often desperate people who commit crimes like robbery, burglary and prostitution to support their habit. That is the reason drugs are illegal, because they are shown to lead to crime other than drug possession crimes.

2. Police Free Zone: The people entering the facility are going to be carrying illegal drugs, therefore for it to work, the police would have to stop policing the area for a certain distance for all practical purposes. The addicts would only come if they knew the police wouldn't target them. Can we ask the police or the residents of a neighborhood to halt enforcement by the police?

3. Costs: Who is going to pay for these centers? The budgets of at all levels of government are strained and this additional cost would mean less for some aspect of the budget or higher taxes and fees on the citizens.

The idea behind safe injection sites is sound, but it is asking too much and it might be a waste of time better spent on a practical solution.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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