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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins: Safe Consumption Spaces Would Be Welcomed By High-Risk Opioid Users

A large majority of people who use heroin and fentanyl would be willing to use safe consumption spaces where they could obtain sterile syringes and have medical support in case of overdose, suggests a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In the study, published June 5 in the Journal of Urban Health, the researchers surveyed 326 users of heroin, fentanyl and illicit opioid pills in Baltimore, Boston and Providence, cities hard-hit by America’s ongoing opioid overdose epidemic. About 77 percent of participants reported a willingness to use safe consumption spaces — sanctioned locations which have been set up and evaluated in other countries such as Canada and Australia but not yet in the U.S. Willingness to use safe consumption spaces was even higher, at 84 percent, among people who relied on public spaces such as streets, parks and abandoned buildings to use drugs.

The results indicated that 84 percent of the Boston participants, 78 percent of the Baltimore participants and 68 percent of the Providence participants were willing to use a safe consumption space.

Dr. Ju Nyeong Park, an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School’s department of health, behavior and society, is the paper’s lead author.

Safe consumption spaces, also called safe injection facilities and overdose prevention sites, represent a “harm-reduction” approach to the public health and social problems stemming from drug addiction.

Studies indicate that the public health benefits are many, including reducing overdose deaths and transmission of HIV and Hepatitis B and C viruses via needle-sharing.

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