Proposed heroin ‘injection rooms’ receive mixed reaction

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – An addictions specialist and local mother, who lost her son to a heroin addiction, disagree with a health group’s idea of providing heroin addicts with an injection room.

A viral video showing a woman shooting heroin at a Schenectady bus station in September made the Capital Region’s heroin epidemic hard to ignore. Now, health advocate groups in New York City believe “supervised drug injection rooms” could curb drug overdoses.

“It’s an epidemic,” Addictions Care Center Executive Director Keith Stack said.

Addiction claimed the life of 22-year-old Sean Murdick.

“He was very energetic,” his mother, Kim Murdick, said. “He was extremely social, very likable.”

Health groups, including the New York Academy of Medicine, are trying to curb overdose deaths by bringing a pilot program to New York encouraging users to shoot up in “injection rooms” under the watchful eye of health workers.

“The injections are happening in a supervised facility with people there who can respond to an overdose and administer naloxone, the overdose antidote,” Peter Schafer with the New York Academy of Medicine said.

Schafer said Upstate New York addicts who often shoot up by themselves in remote areas could benefit from the injection rooms.

“Sean was alone when he overdosed,” Murdick said. “Would it have helped him? Absolutely not.”

Murdick said the stigma of being an addict would have kept Sean far away from a supervised injection room.

“The last thing he would have wanted was for someone else to see him doing this,” she said.

Instead, Murdick said the resources would be better used in treatment. Stack agrees.

“I’m an advocate for treatment,” he said. “I think treatment and recovery is the best solution to any addiction.”

The group spear heading the effort said injection rooms, like syringe exchange programs, can be the stepping stone to treatment.

“Provide help and assistance and make things safer for you, and that if you would like to quit using drugs, this is a place where you can stop using drugs,” Schafer said.

And that could save the life of a neighbor, friend or family member.

“He was the co-captain of the varsity football team,” Murdick said. “It can happen to anybody.”

Currently, there aren’t any injection sites in the United States or New York City. State officials have yet to approve the pilot program.

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