Nation responds to addiction crisis: Supervised injection spaces gain steam

As America's drug abuse crisis intensifies, policymakers are entertaining an idea that in the past they would never have been considered: designated sites for supervised injection with doctors or nurses on stand by in case of an overdose or other medical emergency. 

Critics have long pushed for an end to an approach that criminalizes addiction, but the crisis has reached enough of a fever pitch that local and state legislators are now on board with the idea, according to the Associated Press.

Maryland, California and New York policymakers have all floated the idea, as have city officials in Seattle, San Francisco and Ithaca, New York. Similar supervised sites already exist in Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, and a Boston nonprofit converted a conference room for the same purpose in March, but critics claim they would serve only to contain addiction rather than treating it.

"It's a dangerous idea," John Walters, drug czar under President George W. Bush, told the AP. "It's advocated by people who seem to think that the way we should help sick people is by keeping them sick, but comfortably sick."

Proponents of the idea call this perspective an oversimplification, pointing out that in addition to providing a space to inject, such locations also have clinicians on site to respond to accidental overdoses or another medical emergency. Many also have counseling or treatment beds. Numerous international sites, such as Sydney, Australia's Medically Supervised Injecting Centre and Vancouver, British Columbia's Insite have reported zero deaths. 

To learn more:
- read the AP article via Yahoo News