Group proposes injection rooms for heroin users

Advocacy organization Vocal NY and a group of health care providers are pushing a controversial effort to help with the opioid crisis: supervised injection facilities where anyone who walks can have clean needles and space to inject drugs.

Dr. Jonathan Giftos, an addiction specialist, the goal of supervised injection facilities is to keep people safe from an overdose, not to encourage it.

Seattle is the first city to adopt the concept in the United States. It has been available for years in Europe and Canada.

Dr. Benjamin Eckhardt, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue, says significant evidence from Canada and Europe suggests that injection facilities reduce bacterial and hepatitis C infections.

The New York City Health Department is studying the possibility.

Advocates say the option should be on the table.

New York City has an estimated 85,000 heroin users. Staten Island and the Bronx are considered to have some of the most serious problems.

The mayor's office recently announced plans to invest $38 million annually in addressing the crisis. The effort uses outreach, treatment, and law enforcement to reduce the number of deaths by 35 percent over five years.