It’s all over the news. This likely isn’t the first you’ve heard about supervised consumption sites (AKA supervised injection facilities, overdose prevention sites) and it won’t be the last. 

While America grapples with a crisis where more people are killed by overdoses than car accidents, communities are feverishly searching for ways to mitigate the death toll. We’re expanding access to treatment, building communities of recovery, and increasing access to resources like housing, education and employment. But as we’ve looked beyond America’s borders for solutions implemented in places like Canada and Portugal and identified a key life-saving measure, the opposition has grown much louder. 

Supervised consumption has been implemented successfully in communities across the world. Perhaps most notably, Vancouver’s Insite, has cut overdose rates, reduced ambulance calls for overdoses by 67% and decreased HIV infections.

The data is clear and lives are being saved, so why do we see such staunch opposition to implementing supervised consumption?

For decades, Americans have been educated to believe that substance use is an insidious monster that ruins lives and communities, so we should fear it. We enacted drug policy that criminalizes people who use drugs to the same extent that we criminalize those who distribute them. The DOJ has said “[We’re] not aware of any valid basis for the argument that you can engage in criminal activity as long as you do it in the presence of someone with a medical license.” 

Simply put, we cannot advocate for supervised consumption if policy-makers and the public believe that the people who would benefit from this type of program are criminals. 

We know there are over 22 million Americans living in recovery. Many of us were in positions where using our substance of choice meant we were committing a crime just by using. We’ve been able to engage in our health and well-being to become taxpayers, home owners, business leaders, and active citizens. We wouldn’t have had the chance to become these things if we’d died from our substance use. 

Young People in Recovery (YPR) firmly supports the establishment of supervised consumption in the communities hit hard by the overdose crisis. Supervised consumption, syringe access and naloxone distribution are cornerstones of effective harm reduction strategies. Harm reduction itself is a major pillar in YPR’s blueprint of services and resources necessary for a community to be recovery-ready. 

If you’re interested in joining the growing network of advocate leaders striving to make their communities #recoveryready, consider starting or joining a chapter of YPR, signing up as a supporter, purchasing some YPR gear, or donating to support our mission!