Study determines opening a supervised injection facility for people who inject drugs could save millions

December 14, 2016, RTI International
Credit: RTI International

For the first time, researchers have determined the potential cost and benefits of opening a supervised injection facility for people who inject drugs in the United States. The study, released today, found that a single facility in San Francisco could generate $3.5 million in savings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the opioid epidemic costs the United States 75 billion dollars each year - 55 billion in health and social costs and 20 billion for emergency department and inpatient care. People who inject drugs comprise less than one percent of the U.S. population, however they experience roughly 56 percent of new hepatitis C virus infections, 11 percent of new HIV infections, and nearly one-third suffer from skin and .

Currently, 97 exist in 66 cities across 11 countries, however the United States is not among these countries. Supervised injection facilities provide a safe, clean place and injection equipment so that people can bring in previously obtained drugs and inject while being observed by medical staff.

"Supervised injection facilities have been shown to improve the health and safety of both the people who use them and the surrounding neighborhoods," said Alex Kral, Ph.D., senior author and director of the Behavioral and Urban Health Program at RTI International. "Our study looked specifically at San Francisco where there's a large opioid problem and assessed whether opening a safe injection facility would result in a net benefit to society."

Published in the Journal of Drug Issues, the team of researchers—from RTI, the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the University of British Columbia's Centre for Disease Control, and the University of Southern California—found that the supervised injection facility would prevent 3.3 cases of HIV and 19 cases of hepatitis C virus per year, reduce skin and soft tissue infection hospital stays by 415 days annually, save an average of 0.24 lives per year, and facilitate 110 people to enter medication-assisted treatment.

"While the predicted results may sound small, they are substantial for a single facility," Kral said. "Three HIV infections is roughly 6 percent of the city's total annual injection-related HIV infections, and we estimate that 19 HCV infections comprises roughly 3 to 5 percent of the city's total annual injection-related HCV infections."

The associated outcomes of the supervised injection facility would result in about $6.1 million in health savings per year. With facility operations estimated at $2.6 million per year, net savings would be roughly $3.5 million annually.

"Our analysis shows that a supervised injection facility will not only keep San Franciscans who inject drugs alive and out of the hospital, but it will encourage them to seek help and save taxpayer money," said Amos Irwin, the first author of the study as chief of staff at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.

"This important study adds to the large body of research clearly demonstrating the benefits of supervised consumption services," said Laura Thomas, deputy state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "It shows that San Francisco would experience cost savings as well as saving lives and getting public drug use off the streets if we offer these services here."

Explore further: Supervised injection facilities would be cost-effective in Toronto and Ottawa, study shows

More information: Journal of Drug Issues, journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/ … 177/0022042616679829

Related Stories

Supervised injection facilities would be cost-effective in Toronto and Ottawa, study shows

November 30, 2015
Researchers say it is highly likely that establishing up to three supervised injection facilities in Toronto and up to two facilities in Ottawa would be cost-effective.

Drug epidemic stalls HIV decline in whites who shoot up

November 29, 2016
The long decline in HIV infections among white people who inject drugs has stalled, another grim side effect of the nation's drug abuse epidemic.

Canada to ease drug consumption room rules as opioid deaths rise

December 12, 2016
Facing a growing opioid crisis, Canada's Liberal government on Monday removed hurdles to opening new drug-consumption rooms while expanding its fight against narcotics trafficking at the border.

Use of needle exchange programs up dramatically in 10 years: CDC

November 30, 2016
(HealthDay)—Although there was a significant increase in the use of syringe services programs (SSPs)—more commonly known as needle exchange programs—across the United States over the past decade, many injection drug ...

Researchers survey drug use in business bathrooms in NYC

October 24, 2016
Drug overdose death rates per year in the United States (U.S.) nearly doubled from 1999 to 2013. In New York City (NYC) alone, drug overdose deaths had a 43% increase between 2010 and 2014. The majority of these deaths in ...

HIV PrEP currently too pricey to justify use in people who inject drugs

April 25, 2016
HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has individual and population health benefits, but the intervention is currently too expensive to implement in in people who inject drugs. The findings are published in Annals of Internal ...

Recommended for you

Smoking cessation: A genetic mutation involved in relapse

October 4, 2018
Why is it so difficult to stop smoking? Why do some people relapse months after giving up? Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, in collaboration with Sorbonne University and Inserm, have demonstrated that a ...

Study shows cigarillo flavors enhanced by high-intensity sweeteners

October 3, 2018
In a new study, Yale researchers found that popular brands of cigarillos are flavored with high-intensity sweeteners, potentially reducing the aversive sensation of smoking and making cigarillos more palatable. The concern ...

Leading addiction experts call for more neuroscience research on long-term recovery

September 24, 2018
September is addiction recovery month, and, in the midst of the current opioid epidemic, it's an apt moment for addiction research experts to map the future path forward for a long-term recovery strategy for substance abuse. ...

The connection between alcoholism and depression

September 21, 2018
Alcoholism and depression often go hand-in-hand.

Quitting junk food produces similar withdrawal-type symptoms as drug addiction

September 20, 2018
If you plan to try and quit junk food, expect to suffer similar withdrawal-type symptoms—at least during the initial week—like addicts experience when they attempt to quit using drugs.

Low academic achievement can lead to drug abuse decades later, research finds

September 13, 2018
A Virginia Commonwealth University researcher has found that poor academic achievement can lead to substance abuse. Data collected from Swedish participants over a period of 15 to 20 years indicate a strong correlation.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.