Can ‘Safe Houses’ Keep a Check on Drug Overdoses?

Incidents of drug abuse and overdose continue to make headlines in the United States. Hardly a day goes by when someone is not being rushed to the emergency services of a hospital for an accidental or an intentional overdose. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the death rate from all drugs including opioids was 46,471 in 2013 whereas, the number of deaths caused due to firearms including suicides and homicides was 33,636. The number of drug-related deaths surpassed all kinds of gun deaths by nearly 13,000.

Under such circumstances, many California-based drug groups are pushing for “safe houses.” Safe houses are places where drug users can avail sterile supplies and their favorite drug under medical supervision. Supporters believe that under such circumstances, the chances of overdosing can be significantly diminished. Also, in case an emergency arises, relief can be provided quickly. The one-of-its-kind bill legalizing injecting sites has been passed in the Assembly, making California one of the few states to have done so. It has been approved by the Senate Health Committee as well.

Drug groups contend that legalizing safe houses would prove to be a lifesaver for most drug users. Most users resort to drugs as a coping mechanism or to get high. They are unaware of the right quantity and often end up overdosing without realizing the fatal outcomes. Whether on streets or in parties, many-a-times, help can come too late. As the illegal market is growing so is the epidemic of illicit drug use. In such a scenario, safe houses may give better access to treatment, counseling, prevention and timely intervention.

One such safe house exists in Vancouver, Canada. This site claims to have prevented 6,440 overdosing incidents in 13 years. It also claims to have given access to treatment to 4500 people. Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, aims to replicate the Vancouver Safe House in America. Apart from seeking to establish legal safe houses in eight counties from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the bill also aims to limit the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis among drug users due to their risky practices including needle sharing and unprotected liaisons.

Opponents consider rehab as the ‘safest’ choice

Critics on the other side of the fence disapprove any such move citing that it would allow the uninhibited use of drugs as per one’s convenience. One such critic is the Sacramento Pastor, Ronnie Allen. According to him, opening safe houses would increase the chances of developing a deep rooted and chronic addiction. Further elucidating on the dangers of safe houses, Pastor Allen says, “If anyone would offer me at that time a free place to smoke crack, it would have been a wonderful time for me. But I would have never… recovered.” Rehabs for him and his supporters seem to be the best choice to help a person walk the path of sobriety again.

It is advantageous to commit the habitual drug user to a rehab center, where not only he/she can be steadily weaned off from drugs but can also receive continuous counseling to manage emotions, thinking and behavior.

Drug addiction is almost a compulsive behavior. While the first experience with drugs is voluntary, most people start taking drugs with regularity once the alterations in the brain chemistry are deepened turning it into a necessity. Persisting with the habit for long is physically as well as psychologically damaging. It hastens the process of aging, causes physical illnesses and increases the chances of early mortality.

Road to sobriety

Drug overdose is a critical situation requiring immediate resuscitation and professional assistance. It is essential to look for vital signs such as temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, pupil constriction or dilation if someone suspects an individual to have overdosed. Timely intervention can help save a precious life.

Replacement of Body Parts

Yesterday I helped a lady named Pam back to her car who was having trouble walking in the shopping centre. She had stopped for a rest when my approach to assist was welcomed. She explained that it was her hip giving her trouble. At 70 years of age she is greatly obese and must weigh around 20 stone. Not wishing to pry too much she did inform me that they were considering a hip replacement operation.

One glance at her and the obvious concern a surgeon would have in her case is the weight she has to carry around. This will impact greatly if she has such a procedure because the pressure on the hip-joint is huge. From my understanding the bones into which the pins are inserted for the new joints can make them weak and easily broken.

This happened to a friend who has had three subsequent operations when the femur broke. Once it was a fall that caused it and the other times have not been told to me. That woman is also in her 70′s. At the gym, where there are many with replacement body parts, the women involved relay all types of stories. Some are happy with them others not.

In Pam’s case the first thing she needs to do is reduce her weight. That is not easy and she announced she has lost 4 kilograms over the last few months. In my case there has been a reduction of 8 kilograms in the same time period because of removing processed sugar and salt from my diet.

If one is struggling with their physical health there are ways to correct the problems without the use of drugs. Exercise is one of them and careful diets are another. Without salt my blood pressure is rarely above 120 over 70 or 80. Pam’s must be a lot more and she is probably on heart pressure tablets. She is also a good candidate for diabetes, if she doesn’t have it already.

Without the sugar and salt I rarely get headaches or have to take analgesics. In fact, I take no drugs whatsoever and people are stunned when they learn that about me. Hopefully my bones are strong enough to carry me to the end and I won’t have to face a body part replacement.