In Colorado there is a fatal overdose every nine hours and 36 minutes. 174 people died of overdose just in the City and County of Denver in 2016. Nationwide, this statistic is counted in minutes rather than hours as overdoses have now surpassed deaths caused by both car accidents and gunshots. It is a serious challenge but, fortunately, one that has a solution. Supervised injection facilities, commonly known as SIFs, bridge the gap between people who inject drugs and public health interventions that are proven to reduce the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis and also prevent fatal overdoses. In fact, of 102 SIFs currently operating around the globe, not one has reported a single fatal overdose on its premises.
What does this mean to our community? Denver currently lacks proper public health interventions to significantly reduce rates of public injection, something many community members have experienced through observing people utilizing public bathrooms to inject as well as open injecting in common spaces such as parks, sidewalks, and alleyways. These venues are neither sterile nor safe and, sadly, are often the very places where people, without proper supervision or intervention, die of overdose. A Denver SIF would significantly impact rates of public injection and would serve to help connect our marginalized citizens to evidence-based health care and support.
In essence, a SIF would help remove people who inject drugs from parks and business bathrooms into a controlled, staffed, and medical environment.
Executive Director Lisa Raville explains, “We want to make sure that our folks get factual, correct health information and have a safe space. We want to make sure that they are not dying in business bathrooms and someone who makes minimum wage who is just trying to clean the bathroom before their shift is over isn’t finding a dead body, and that is exactly what is happening in our community. Not only is that very traumatizing for mothers and family members and people who love the person who died of an overdose in that bathroom, it is incredibly traumatizing for someone who has to work there every day and relive that.”
How can you help?
Sign our pledge to support an evidence-based intervention to prevent disease and death in a manner that meets the needs of our citizens and our community. Support the opening of a supervised injection facility in Denver for a healthier and safer community. We ask Denver to take all necessary steps to authorize and establish supervised injection facilities as a public health intervention to reduce overdose deaths, HIV and viral hepatitis transmission, increase public safety, while promoting access to drug dependency treatment and other supportive care.