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Harm Reduction Coalition Commends Mayor on Support for Overdose Prevention Centers

SWIFT ACTION NEEDED TO PREVENT FURTHER OVERDOSE DEATHS

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

For immediate release

Contact: Daniel Raymond, Harm Reduction Coalition
                (212) 377-9121
                raymond@harmreduction.org

In response to a New York Times article outlining plans to advance establishment of spaces for safer drug consumption in New York City, Harm Reduction Coalition today commended Mayor Bill de Blasio for recognizing Overdose Prevention Centers as an important strategy to reduce overdose deaths and improve the health and safety of New Yorkers. Harm Reduction Coalition stands ready to assist in the establishment of effective Overdose Prevention Centers in neighborhoods and communities.

Harm reduction starts by listening to what people who use drugs need,” said Harm Reduction’s Deputy Director of Planning and Policy, Daniel Raymond. “What we hear is that the people most vulnerable to overdose are looking for safety and support, in environments that treat them with respect and dignity. Overdose Prevention Centers directly meet those needs, and will allow us to start making our communities whole again.”

In 2015, Harm Reduction Coalition brought together international experts and local advocates and health officials to understand the experiences of implementing these centers in other countries, and their relevance to New Yorkers. The resulting report, Alternatives to Public Injection, provides critical insights for moving forward in New York City.

“People who use drugs are our family, friends, and neighbors,” said Hiawatha Collins, Harm Reduction Coalition’s Community Mobilization Coordinator. When we support Overdose Prevention Centers, we’re rejecting the shame and stigma that fuels the overdose epidemic.”

Harm Reduction Coalition calls now for bold action from our city officials and community leaders to fulfill the promise of Overdose Prevention Centers for New Yorkers at risk of overdose and their loved ones. While Harm Reduction Coalition recognizes the complexities of launching Overdose Prevention Centers, we are confident that New York is up to this challenge.

There are more than 100 of these facilities currently operating across 11 different countries, with more planned. Not one facility worldwide has experienced a fatal overdose. Canada, which is also grappling with record numbers of fatal opioid overdoses, has recently begun expanding the number of facilities in operation throughout the country. In the United States, state legislators in New York, California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Vermont have been exploring how Overdose Prevention Centers could reduce overdose deaths and improve the health of people who use drugs. Several cities, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Philadelphia, have announced plans to open similar centers under various names, including Community Health Engagement Locations, Comprehensive User Engagement Sites, Supervised Injection Facilities, and Safer Consumption Spaces.

“Unsafe drug consumption already exist in New York City – in public bathrooms, libraries, fast food restaurants, parks, alleys and other unsupervised public locations. With one New Yorker dying from overdose every 7 hours, we’re ready for bold leadership to save lives,” said Harm Reduction Coalition’s Hepatitis C Training and Policy Manager, Mike Selick.

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