I am a physician who is board certified in addiction medicine and have been treating Mainers with substance use disorder for over 10 years. My fondest wish is that there would be connection to affordable, accessible and evidence-based treatment for everyone who needs it. Since that is sadly not yet the reality, my other wish is that those who need it stay alive long enough to get to it.

There are many opinions about safe injection sites, but opinion has no place in medicine: only evidence. The evidence is that safe injection sites save lives, increase connection to treatment resources, reduce new cases of HIV and hepatitis, and yes, even reduce the presence of contaminated needles out in the community. There is no evidence that safe injection sites increase the rate of substance use: In fact, the reverse is true.

Those of us in recovery advocacy have been begging for the presence of legal, safe injection sites in Maine. The data supports it, yet there has been no forward motion. Last year, 418 Mainers died of overdose, yet harm reduction remains “controversial” and those who try to provide it on their own are criticized.

Let’s make it easier. Create evidence-based safe injection sites which are legal and safe. Harm reduction does not belong on the black market.

Merideth C Norris DO


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