King County Heroin Crisis Task Force recommends 2 injection sites

Updated:

The King County Heroin Crisis Task Force is recommending at least two safe injection sites for drug users: one located within Seattle and one outside city limits.

KIRO 7 News reported in August that a majority of people on King County heroin’s task force supported the idea of a safe consumption site.

>> How would an injection site operate in Seattle?

They announced the recommendation with a proposed number of locations in a news conference on Thursday.

“These sites will provide individuals with opiod use disorder a portal to return to healthy lives by reducing overdoses and preventing infections like Hep B & C  HIV,” said Jeff Duchin, a health officer with Public Health of Seattle & King County.

Proponents of a "safe consumption site" point to a similar housing operation in Seattle, where 75 alcoholics can drink in their rooms and have access to on-site treatment services. Studies show the operation saved taxpayers millions in housing and crisis services annually and decreased alcohol consumption in residents.

The Metropolitan Improvement District Clean Team collected nearly 800 syringes in January near Seattle's downtown, where they serve.

>> Related: Seattle could be the first city to host safe consumption sites for drug users

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine formed the task force in March after seeing startling statistics of overdose deaths and skyrocketing numbers of people seeking treatment.

They gathered a group of about 30 people from different disciplines in the health industry, law enforcement, and human resources.

Task force member Dr. Jeffrey Duchin said the group is working on releasing a formal proposal for the site next month.

KIRO 7 News spoke with some people on the task force who say the city would see a lot fewer syringes on the street and a lot fewer people dying from using drugs.

"I've done a lot of work looking at where are people dying of drug overdoses," Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, a University of Washington drug researcher, told KIRO 7 News in February.  "It's all across King County.  It's not just downtown."

>> Related: Seattle police have saved 11 people with overdose drug

He insists there is evidence the safe consumption sites work.

"You can get a decrease in syringes being discarded," said Dr. Banta-Green. "You can get a decrease in terms of people injecting drugs and using drugs in public.  You can get a decrease in deaths, it looks like, from these facilities."

Opponents said a consumption site condones drug use. 

The task force will wait 90 days to get feedback from the community.

Next Up: