As Overdoses Soar, Rhode Island Embraces Drug Consumption Sites
The number of Americans abusing prescription drugs has soared to nearly 6.5 million in the past decade, prompting advocates to campaign to curb drug usage through a system of drug consumption sites. These drug consumption sites provide a safe haven for drug users to obtain prescription drugs without prescription.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s drug consumption site program, or DEA’s D-E-V plan. The agency’s effort to combat prescription drug abuse started in 1992 when the agency sought to curb drug usage by limiting who could prescribe these drugs and regulating where they can be marketed.
Since then, the agency has implemented numerous tools to help people who are battling addictions to prescription drugs, helping them find treatment, get assistance while recovering from addiction or prevent the further use of these drugs.
But while these drug consumption site programs have been implemented throughout the United States, Rhode Island has been lacking in an effective system. Currently, there are no drug consumption sites in the state, and the state only recently instituted the first one in the past 17 years, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.
As the number of Americans using prescription drugs has been growing, there is more responsibility on lawmakers to act against this trend. To curb prescription drug abuse, Rhode Island lawmakers are seeking to have a state-run drug consumption site and have passed legislation to have Rhode Island become a national testing site for prescription drugs, which has been designated a high-priority federal law.
In the past, federal drug consumption site programs have been implemented in California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Connecticut. To help lawmakers combat prescription drug abuse, the American Public Health Association, Pharmacists of America and Public Citizen have endorsed Rhode Island’s efforts to become a testing site for prescription drugs. The organization said that Rhode Island is uniquely positioned to be a good testing site, given its history of addiction treatment and its location in the southern part of the state.
“Rhode Island’s role in the past as a testing site for a drug called heroin also was very significant,”