HRAC’s New Policy Initiative

As you know, we have worked since 2010 to pass 7 pieces of statewide legislation and made 3 Denver city policy changes for a healthier and safer Colorado.  When you support harm reduction efforts, you support winners.  We wanted to spend a moment letting our supporters know about a new policy initiative we are pushing forward with in our community.
In Colorado, there is a fatal overdose every nine hours and 24 minutes.  174 people died of overdose just in the City and County of Denver in 2016.  129 died in 2015.  And, as you may remember, the HRAC lost 6 participants to overdose over a two week period in January of this year.

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, in 63 cities, and not one has reported a single fatal overdose on its premises.

For the past year, Dr. JK Costello was at HRAC garnering research and writing his thesis as he pursed his Masters in Public Health.  He is spearheading HRAC’s effort to utilize local, evidence-based practices to inform policy initiatives and process improvement. His thesis is a GREAT read and have been sharing snippets monthly via our enewsletter for supporters.  His project involves identifying the particular local barriers to a SIF and development of policy to address these barriers. Each month, we’ll look at one aspect of injection practices in Denver and how supervised injection might address that.

Over the past year, he interviewed 40 HRAC participants, all injectors, for an hour, about their injecting practices and possible utilization/knowledge of SIF. This month, we’ll look at where people inject drugs in Denver. While some people inject at home, many people also inject closer to where they buy drugs.

Injection occurs mostly in the open, or at least in publicly-accessible locations. Many of these locations are patronized by the general public. A safe place to inject with no threat of prosecution would reduce injections in risky, public
locations. This has four very desirable effects:
1) Reduced overdose
2) Safer injection practices
3) Less syringes improperly disposed
4) Better relations between the public, law enforcement, and people who inject drugs.

Wanna know more about our intentions?  
ED Lisa Raville – “Really, this is a larger community effort: We want to make sure people are safer and healthier. The problem is, we are able to give them all the tools to inject drugs safely except the place to do it safely, and that means it is usually rushed and hurried and in an alley or a public bathroom. We know that business owners aren’t trying to be bathroom monitors. This would take [injection sites] out of the public sphere and [put them] where [they are] supposed to be – in a medical facility. It is a medical issue and a public-health issue.”

Are you a business that wants to join our efforts?!
ED Lisa Raville – “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.”  Business folks, please join us. See here.

Questions, issues, concerns, and/or want to join the movement?!  Don’t hesitate to email us at … we can do better, Denver.


– DPA Fact Sheet Supervised Injection Facilities

– Supervised Injection Research

– Paving the Policy Parkway for the Nation’s First Supervised Injection Facility

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