By Ju Nyeong Park, Susan G. Sherman, Saba Rouhani, Kenneth B. Morales, Michelle McKenzie, Sean T. Allen, Brandon D.L. Marshall, and Traci C. Green.
A large majority of people who use heroin and fentanyl would be willing to use safe consumption spaces where they could obtain sterile syringes and have medical support in case of overdose, suggests a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In the study, published June 5 in the Journal of Urban Health, the researchers surveyed 326 users of heroin, fentanyl and illicit opioid pills in Baltimore, Boston and Providence, cities hard-hit by America's ongoing opioid overdose epidemic. About 77 percent of participants reported a willingness to use safe consumption spaces--sanctioned locations which have been set up and evaluated in other countries such as Canada and Australia but not yet in the U.S. Willingness to use safe consumption spaces was even higher, at 84 percent, among people who relied on public spaces such as streets, parks and abandoned buildings to use drugs.
The results indicated that 84 percent of the Boston participants, 78 percent of the Baltimore participants and 68 percent of the Providence participants were willing to use a safe consumption space--the overall rate coming in at 77 percent.
"On the whole, we found a strong willingness to use safe consumption spaces. This is important because often the voices of people who use drugs are not always included in policy debates or in the implementation of public health interventions," says study lead author Ju Nyeong Park, PhD, MHS, an assistant scientist in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Bloomberg School.
Safe consumption spaces, also called safe injection facilities and overdose prevention sites, represent a "harm-reduction" approach to the public health and social problems stemming from drug addiction.