Beacon Hill

Mass. Medical Society Votes in Favor of Supervised Injection Facilities

The proposal passed with an overwhelming 193 - 21 vote

The increasing number of opioid overdoses in Massachusetts has prompted doctors to call for state-run injection sites in an attempt to combat the use of drugs.

Over the weekend, members of the Massachusetts Medical Society voted 193-21 in favor of Supervised Injection Facilities (SIF), which essentially allow drug users to shoot up while under the supervision of medical professionals.

"You have to stay alive to get better," said Dr. Barbara Herbert, an addiction specialist.

Over the last decade, Herbert has found that people often die before they can even seek help. Monitoring the use, in her opinion, is better than potentially losing a life.

"The idea that someone would show up and inject in front of me is not an appealing idea," Herbert explained, "But the idea that they would go two blocks away and die is so much worse."

According to a report from the society's House of Delegates, the facilities have worked in other countries where they are allowed to operate. For example, in Vancouver, Canada, they have led to a 35 percent reduction in overdoses and a 30 percent increase in users seeking treatment.

However, in order to operate in Massachusetts, the legislature would need to act to make it legal.

"I need to take a look at that one. I'm not familiar with it," said Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday.

But the idea is not entirely new in the state.

Last year, the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program established a "safe room" for addicts to come to while they are under the influence. SPOT, or the Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment, allows users to live out their high while under the supervision of medical professionals.

"We are finding that it's an effective way to get people into treatment, but it also doesn't go far enough," said Dr. Jessie Gaeta, who helped create the space.

While lawmakers on Beacon Hill might not be sold on the idea at the moment, there is already a proposal on the table to establish a framework for such a facility in the future.

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