This week, the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest association of physicians in the United States, announced support for the development of pilot facilities where people who use injection drugs can do so under medical supervision.
“The endorsement by the American Medical Association to establish and evaluate supervised injection facilities affirms the recommendation by our local Task Force,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin MD, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “The available evidence shows these sites should be included, along with treatment expansion and other prevention measures, as a strategy to combat the epidemic of heroin and opiate drug addiction and overdose deaths in Seattle & King County.”
Locally, the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommends CHELs (Community Health Engagement Locations) with connections onsite to other health and social services as one part of a necessarily multi-pronged strategy. The Taskforce emphasized that prevention and treatment are critical to address this crisis and that there is a percentage of people with addiction who are not ready or able to enter treatment on any given day. The Taskforce underscored that we must treat opioid addiction as a public health issue and find additional ways to save peoples’ lives until they are ready and able to enter treatment.
From the AMA release: “…the AMA today voted to support the development of pilot facilities where people who use intravenous drugs can inject self-provided drugs under medical supervision. Studies from other countries have shown that supervised injection facilities reduce the number of overdose deaths, reduce transmission rates of infectious disease, and increase the number of individuals initiating treatment for substance use disorders without increasing drug trafficking or crime in the areas where the facilities are located.”
The AMA joins many other medical and public health organizations who have endorsed supervised consumption sites, including The American Public Health Association, AIDS United, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medical Association and the International Drug Policy Consortium.
To learn more about CHELs, you can watch our recent Facebook Live Q&A. We’ve also responded to additional important community questions here.