Target: United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra
Goal: Endorse and move forward with legal “safe injection sites” to reduce overdose deaths.
America is experiencing a historic crisis, with deaths from drug overdoses rising more than a mind-boggling 30% in 2020. Black men aged 15 to 24 experienced an increase of 86%, their overdose death rate almost doubling in a single year. This increase has been driven in large part by the introduction of illegal fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, which often contaminates other illegal drugs and increases the likelihood of death from unsuspecting users.
The United States government has been waging a “War on Drugs” for more than half a century now and it hasn’t helped. What will help is providing users with a safe place to do illegal drugs, where they can be monitored by health professionals and provided with supplies to prevent overdose and disease. Critics may try to label this as a way to enable drug abuse, but the truth is that nobody can recover from drug abuse if they’re dead, and addicts are more likely to quit when they’re encouraged by people they’ve learned to trust and who they know won’t send them to jail if they relapse.
The first authorized safe injection site opened in New York City last November. However, the practice has a longer history in Canada and Europe, where it’s been a huge success. One safe injection site in Vancouver led to a 35% reduction in overdose deaths and a 67% decrease in ambulance calls for overdose. The rising concentration in overdose deaths among poor and marginalized populations in the United States has more to do with access to healthcare than use. By giving people immediate access to life supporting healthcare, we can keep them alive. From there, they have a platform to work on recovery.
We have let our communities be ravaged by drug death for too long. The Drug War has failed to keep our communities safe, and we need a new path forward to cure our drug problem. Sign this petition to demand our government take the first step in controlling our drug crisis and work together with local communities to implement safe injection sites.
Dear Secretary Becerra,
Thank you for the work you’ve done handling the once in a century Covid-19 pandemic. Our communities are facing yet another historic epidemic. This time, it’s rapidly rising deaths due to drug overdose. As with the coronavirus, this scourge is going to require exceptional leadership to tackle.
We have spent more than fifty years pursuing a “War on Drugs” hardline punitive approach with little success. As a nation, we need a new path that will lead to genuine improvements in our communities. Supervised safe injection sites are an innovative and effective first step that research shows will lead to a serious reduction in overdose deaths. It will also build trust and open the door to other programs and services that address the root causes of drug abuse and lead to recovery.
Our communities are suffering from the immense loss drug overdose has caused. We need you to endorse and move forward with supervised safe injection sites across the country, working with the Department of Justice and local governments to begin the assault on drug death in our communities.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer
This content was originally published here.