Local drug prevention organization speaks out about Pa. Senate vote to ban safe injection sites

PITTSBURGH — A local drug prevention organization is speaking out after the Pennsylvania State Senate voted overwhelmingly to ban safe injection sites across the Commonwealth.

The sites are currently outlawed nationwide. This legislation would keep it that way in Pennsylvania.

Critics say it eliminates a possible weapon in the war on addiction.

“It makes no sense, on a state level in the state of Pennsylvania with the high rate of overdose deaths we, to take away any tools that a community in the state might decide makes sense for that community,” Alice Bell of Prevention Point Pittsburgh said.

Bell is the overdose prevention director for the organization. PPP provides services like mobile needle exchanges and suboxone clinics. She tells Channel 11 that 1500 to 2000 people take advantage of the program every year.

“It’s very dangerous to restrict any options for possible tools that may save lives,” Bell said.

“To me, it’s not necessarily the most appropriate tool to combat addiction when you continue to allow someone the opportunity to feed the addiction going forward,” State Sen. Jay Costa said. The Democrat represents part of Allegheny County and voted in favor of the ban. “The resources that would be expended for [an] injection site, I think, would be better suited if we provide resources in treatment and recovery programs.”

Governor Shapiro has signaled support for the ban. Before it gets to his desk, the legislation has to make it through the Democrat-controlled House.

“I can’t say for certain whether or not it’s going to make it through the House,” Costa said.

“I certainly hope we can prevent it from passing the House,” Bell said.

More on the mobile clinics here:

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