Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine on Friday announced they were directing Seattle/King County Public Health to set up two supervised injection facilities, the first of their kind in the United States.
Specific locations and funding sources have not yet been announced.
Seattle, San Francisco and Ithaca, N.Y., were among the U.S. cities considering opening supervised injection facilities (SIFs) last summer. As their name implies, SIFs, also known as “drug consumption rooms,” provide a location in which users can legally prepare and consume drugs under the observation of nurses, who can administer naloxone if an overdose occurs.
Seattle and King County officials’ decision to move forward with plans to open two SIF sites comes as heroin use in the area continues to climb. Deaths in Seattle related to heroin usage increased by 58% in 2014, according to University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute research published in the Seattle Times.
About 140 miles north of Seattle, Vancouver opened Insite, the first SIF in North America, in 2003. To date, Insite has had 3.47 million visits and 4,922 overdose interventions without any deaths, according to Vancouver Coastal Health, which operates and provides funding for Insite.