New York City has been the epicenter of injection drug use in the U.S. for decades. Coupled with an exploding homelessness crisis in recent years – when for the first time the city’s shelter system exceeded 60,000 people on any given night – public injection drug use is an increasing problem.
Through a recent survey by the Injection Drug Users Health Alliance (IDUHA), nearly half of syringe exchange participants reported having to inject in a public place like a park or building stairwell. Moreover, 60% had recently injected in semi-public locations, often restaurant and other public restrooms. Homeless people were more than 9 times more likely to report public injecting than those who were stably housed.
Public injection drug use in NYC is leading to many negative consequences. The IDUHA study found that public injectors are twice as likely to have overdosed in the past year compared to injection drug users who do not inject publicly. They are twice as likely to not have a consistent supply of new, sterile injection equipment and more than 4 times more likely to re-use injection equipment, which can lead to permanent vein damage and HIV, viral hepatitis, and other infectious disease transmission.
SIFNYC is a growing coalition of public health and criminal justice reform groups and NYC residents that believes that supervised injection facilities are an important solution to problems related to drug use in our city.
To learn more about alternatives to public injection, visit www.sifnyc.org to join the campaign