The Pacific Northwest, and Seattle in particular, has been under the thumb of a massive heroin epidemic for decades.
Spurred on by the ever-increasing scourge of prescription opioid abuse, heroine use has skyrocketed all over America. Suburban areas have been hit particularly hard as doctors continue to push addictive painkillers on their patients due to financial pressures from the Big Pharmaceutical lobby. Now, these doctor-prescribed opioids are becoming wildly expensive on the black market, and the droves of Americans who are addicted to them are turning to the cheaper, and much more dangerous, heroin to get their fix.
Seattle, recognizing addiction as a mental health issue and not as a legal matter, has taken the initiative of treating addicts as opposed to criminalizing them.
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“Officials in Seattle and King County, Washington, are working to find funding and locations to build two supervised injection facilities that will allow heroin addicts to shoot up without any fear of punishment and under the supervision of state-sponsored medical professionals. Once constructed, the facilities will be the first of their kind in the United States.
“According to a report by Governing, the sites will also include HIV testing and other services many drug addicts are not currently receiving.
“Jeff Duchin, health officer of public health for Seattle and King County, told Governing the effort is meant to help people transition out of addiction in a safe environment.
“’This isn’t about enabling drug use,’ Duchin said. ‘These are sick people, and they’re in danger of dying alone and outside. We want people to be able to be kept alive until they’re ready for treatment.’”
In the 21st century, Americans are finally coming to grips with the failure of the War on Drugs. Examples are abound in which addiction treatment far outperforms criminal charges and mandatory minimum sentencing, and Seattle’s proposed injection facilities have the potential to save a great many lives.