NEW YORK (AP) — The first officially authorized safe havens for people to use heroin and other narcotics have been cleared to open in New York City in hopes of curbing overdoses, the mayor and health commissioner said Tuesday.
The “overdose prevention centers” — commonly known as supervised injection sites — have been discussed for years in New York and some other U.S. cities and already exist in Canada, Australia and Europe.
A few unofficial facilities have operated in the city for some time, allowing drug users a monitored place to partake.
Proponents say the facilities save lives by recognizing the reality of drug use and providing a place where users are watched for signs of overdose.
“I’m proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
Opponents, however, see the sites as a moral failure that essentially sanctions people harming themselves and federal law bans operating a place for narcotics use.