Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick is making national headlines. He wants his city to host the nation’s first supervised heroin injection facility, where heroin users would be able to shoot up under the care of a nurse without getting arrested by police.
Myrick points out that these facilities exist in Canada, Europe, and Australia and are working to reduce overdose deaths.
In an interview, Monday with the Associated Press Myrick discussed his own family trials related to drug addiction and announced his intent to seek a State Health Department declaration of a heroin epidemic and health crisis, which would enable Ithaca to proceed with the injection clinics without the approval of the state legislature.
In New York state, overdose deaths involving heroin and other opiates have increased from 186 in 2003 to 914 in 2012.
Ithaca has seen three fatal overdoses and 13 non-fatal overdoses over a three-week span in 2014.
The mayor said this facility would be staffed by nurses or physicians who could quickly administer an antidote if and when a user overdoses. But addicts also could get clean syringes and be directed to treatment and recovery programs.