PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ One local lawmaker is proposing the state designate supervised facilities for those struggling with substance abuse.
The bill, sponsored by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Sen. Josh Miller, D-Cranston, would create a pilot program to establish “harm reduction centers” in an effort to prevent overdose deaths.
Miller said most overdoses, especially those involving fentanyl, are accidental.
“If they can use in a safe setting where this is supervised by medical staff, we would avoid those,” Miller said.
Miller said each facility would be staffed with trained medical professionals who can treat overdose victims and provide them with treatment referrals. The facilities would also offer other recovery services.
Critics of the idea believe the facilities, also referred to as safe injection sites, encourage drug use.
But Project Weber/Renew, an organization dedicated to providing assistance to those struggling with addiction, says data says otherwise.
Colleen Daley Ndoye is the executive director of Project Weber/Renew. She said a patient’s road to recovery could begin by visiting a harm reduction center.
“A person has to be alive in order to enter recovery,” Executive Director of Project Weber/Renew Colleen Daley Ndoye said. “They could come in to consume, then they could get an opportunity to get an HIV test, a Hep C test, or connect with a doctor or connect with medical services.”
“We see it as an attempt to connect people who may be disconnected from all other services,” Daley Ndoye added.
Last year, Miller introduced a similar bill that passed the Senate but died in the House. He believes there’s a lot of momentum in the General Assembly this session and hopes this year it will pass.