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Seattle creates 'safe spaces' for addicts to inject illegal drugs

Seattle creates 'safe spaces' for addicts to inject illegal drugs

Katie Zezima | Washington Post -- 

Officials in Seattle on Friday approved the nation’s first “safe-injection” sites for users of heroin and other illegal drugs, calling the move a drastic but necessary response to an epidemic of addiction that is claiming tens of thousands of lives each year.

The sites — which offer addicts clean needles, medical supervision and quick access to drugs that reverse the effects of an overdose — have long been popular in Europe. Now, with the U.S. death toll rising, the idea is gaining traction in a number of American cities, including Boston, New York City and Ithaca, N.Y.

While opponents say the sites promote illegal drug use, supporters say they can keep people alive and steer them toward treatment. They compare supervised injection facilities to the needle exchanges that became popular in the 1980s and 1990s as a way to stanch the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among intravenous drug users.

“These sites save lives and that is our goal in Seattle/King County,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D) said in a statement.

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