Over the last few years, I have watched with a blend of amazement and grave concern as an odd phenomenon has unfolded against the backdrop of our nation’s opioid crisis: Despite the clear need to battle this ongoing epidemic with all of the tools at our disposal, one evidence-proven option — supervised injection facilities — is being overlooked, and even disparaged.
Back in the spring, the Massachusetts Medical Society began advocating for the establishment of a pilot supervised injection facility in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was not an easy decision because physicians don’t want to condone, or to be seen as condoning, the use of illicit drugs. Yet after close review and thorough debate, it was clear that the data supported their use.
A supervised injection facility is a safe, clean space where individuals can inject drugs they already possess under the supervision of trained medical staff. The facilities also offer sterile injection equipment. The advantage is that medical expertise is immediately present in case an emergency occurs. At the same time, these on-site clinicians can facilitate pathways to treatment and rehabilitation from the chronic disease of opioid abuse disorder.