How can Maine reduce its number of fatal drug overdoses? One solution: establishing supervised drug-consumption facilities.

Studies show supervised drug-consumption facilities save lives. They do not increase drug use or crime. They do the opposite: They reduce public disorder and increase rates at which people decide to reduce their drug use.

Peer pressure, difficult childhoods, severe trauma, lack of positive role models – most of us know somebody who is affected by substance use disorder, and many have lost friends and family members to opiate poisoning. Our Portland detox is so overburdened that it has to turn away 100 individuals per month. What are these people to do? Where are they to go?

If we know that people will continue to use drugs, shouldn’t we help them do it safely? Otherwise, isn’t the message “there is a safe way to do this, but we won’t help you with it”?

Safe consumption sites won’t cost us too much money. Studies show they actually save money, because of less disease, fewer deaths and fewer ambulance and other expensive costs to society. It sounds counterintuitive, but all the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that these sites save lives and save money, and greatly improve quality of life for all.

Harm reduction occurs when you wear a helmet, when you practice safe sex and when you use a designated driver. Our brothers, sisters, parents and children who are dying from preventable deaths – let’s provide them the same opportunity to practice harm reduction.

If I had been discarded by society and left to die, I would not be where I am today. I am a person in long-term recovery and the founder of Journey House Sober Living, which operates three abstinence-based recovery houses. I believe in harm reduction- treatment, supervised drug-consumption facilities, syringe access, Good Samaritan 911 laws, moderation, abstinence, etc. I believe in recovery and in recovery-ready communities.

Jesse Harvey

founder and director of operations, Journey House, LLC

Portland