Two strategies that research indicates would help alleviate America’s opioid crisis lack widespread public support, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The study, published in the June issue of Preventive Medicine, is the first to poll a large, nationwide, representative sample of Americans for their views on safe consumption sites (also sometimes called “safe injection sites”) and syringe services (sometimes referred to as needle exchange) programs. Both of these harm-reduction strategies have been found to reduce drug overdoses and HIV transmission.
The results suggest that average Americans tend to view these strategies negatively. Among the 1,004 adults sampled, only 29 percent supported legalizing safe consumption sites in their communities and only 39 percent supported legalizing syringe services programs in their communities. Respondents who had negative views about these strategies also tended to have very negative views of opioid users.
“These results suggest that we need to reduce stigma toward people who use opioids and do a better job educating the public about why these strategies work,” says study lead author Dr. Emma E. McGinty, an assistant professor in the department of health policy and management at the Bloomberg School.