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New York City opens drug use “safe havens”

A staffer stocks a packet of clean injection equipment at a syringe exchange program in the Brooklyn borough of New York City in 2018. Associated Press/Photo by Mary Altaffer

New York City opens drug use “safe havens”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi announced the city has authorized overdose prevention centers (OPCs), locations for people to use heroin and other narcotics under medical supervision. De Blasio called the centers a “smarter approach” to fighting a national epidemic of overdose deaths. Two city-funded nonprofits will run the injection sites, hosted at current syringe exchange programs. Some were operational as of Tuesday.

How will this help? Proponents of the plan said supervision is necessary to prevent accidental overdoses. The centers will provide clean needles along with optional information on addiction treatment. Critics said OPCs give communities the impression that drug use is safe and called the city health department irresponsible for sanctioning it. Federal law already prohibits places from hosting illegal drug use, and de Blasio admitted that legal challenges are likely. More than 2,000 people died of overdoses in New York City in 2020. Researchers estimate the new proposal could prevent roughly 130 deaths and save $7 million in health expenses.

Dig deeper: Read Charissa Koh’s report in Compassion about similar safe injection site proposals in California.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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Just another example of how the Democrats are not only morally bankrupt but just plain stupid. This will only cause more people to become entangled in drug use and create broken families and heartache. If we really care about justice, we will not let this go on. We will prevent the free flow of drugs across our borders. Rather than removing police, we will have more and train them well so they can best serve their communities. We will get rid of gangs in our cities and towns and enable safe communities so people can work and earn a living free from government handouts which enslave people.

We will overhaul our schools and universities so that our youth aren’t brainwashed to accept moral perversion and to hate our country.

As Christians, we will spread the gospel in our communities and battle ideologies that are against our faith. Rather than surrendering to the cultural war, we will fight to gain victory making our communities peaceful and conducive to spread the gospel.


Has what Calif. is doing about drug help shown them that this is a good idea?
Sometimes I feel Calif. and NYC are attached at the hip.


“Safe” Haven, how oxymoronic. I can see the advertising now, “Come poison yourself in the Safety of our drug house”. “Our experts will help you get doped up right up to the point of overdose”. “We will help you to continue to live a worthless doped up life, because we care.”

not silent

I get that the city wants to try to prevent overdoses. I get that the problem is very complicated and difficult. However, I grew up in a family with lots of addiction and I have personally dealt with alcoholism; and it IS possible to get clean and sober. Speaking from first and secondhand experience, it's BETTER to deal with the underlying problems and get sober than to keep numbing them out and remaining in addiction.

For what it's worth, the programs that worked for me and my family were free or privately funded; and they only worked because the addict or alcoholic "hit bottom" or reached a point where it was more painful to stay in the addiction than to recover. Granted, not everyone can or will reach that point; and some may die before they can reach it. Unfortunately, no program works perfectly; and none of them work if the person isn't willing to try to recover.

Making addiction "safer" in the short term may help some people live long enough to get help, but I am skeptical about how effective it will be overall. I hope the city is also willing to invest more in resources that can help people who want to STOP the addiction and get recovery.


City run opium dens?