Next year, a bold experiment in harm reduction will open in Rhode Island.
Organized by Project Weber/Renew in Providence, Rhode Island, the first supervised drug use site authorized by a state will open. State authorities recently approved the project for a two-year trial.
Is the concept new?
No – Canada, Australia, and several European countries have experimented with supervised drug consumption sites with some success. The programs are saving lives, and many of those using these centers have gone on to seek treatment.
One recent study on this intervention, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, found the following:
"A total of 22 studies were included in this review: 16 focused on one supervised injection facility in Vancouver, Canada… Supervised injection facilities in the included studies (n=number of studies per outcome category) were mostly associated with significant reductions in opioid overdose morbidity and mortality (n=5), significant improvements in injection behaviors and harm reduction (n=7), significant improvements in access to addiction treatment programs (n=7), and no increase or reductions in crime and public nuisance (n=7)."[i]
Predictably, not everyone is enthusiastic about the experiment. Some worry the approach will only empower drug users to continue use, putting them at greater risk of an unsupervised overdose.
Others believe the nation's long war on drugs has done little more than stigmatize those battling addiction, with little progress made in stemming the epidemic of abuse and death. The fact that Rhode Island saw more overdose deaths in 2021 than any previous year suggests the experiment may have merit.
According to project organizers, supervised consumption goes beyond providing supplies and preventing overdoses. The program allows staff to gain users' trust, creating an opportunity to steer them to other helpful support services – and recovery.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Rhode Island or the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, or Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. And we come to you, regardless of where you live. Our unique in-home treatment model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. Please get in touch with one of our Recovery Specialists to learn more.