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Over the last two decades, drug overdoses have been the cause of over 702,000 in the United States. That number is saying something, and it only continues to rise.

The way this country has taken to solving this problem is not working. Day after day, people are dying despite the hard way in which our country comes down on drugs. It is time to stop watching the same system fail time and again. There are other countries that have discovered a solution that has been witnessed to save lives. What we need to do is follow their example and institute Safe Consumption Sites.

These sites are places where individuals can safely consume pre-obtained drugs. There they have trained staff that can answer questions, dispose of dirty needles and provide clean ones, provide access to mental health services, and administer drugs that can stop overdoses.

In the countries that have instituted these sites, there have been few deaths due to overdose. Not only has there been a decrease in overdose, but they have also seen a decrease in blood transmitted diseases and an increase in entry to drug treatment and counseling. It is easy to dismiss these sites as a place to break the law and feed their addiction. However, the services that are provided in places such as these are vital to these individuals survival.

That is what we need to focus on. The War on Drugs has painted these individuals as the lowest of the low when, in reality, this country has given up on helping them. Public support has always rung in low, but this is a serious solution that needs serious consideration. It is time to stop telling these people pick themselves up by their bootstraps and looking the other way when they fail. Instead, we need to offer access to professionals that can guide them towards healing the root cause of their drug use. Safe Consumption Sites are our solution.

ANGELA O'DEA

Flagstaff

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