Drug overdose death rates per year in the United States nearly doubled from 1999 to 2013.
In New York City alone, drug overdose deaths had a 43% increase between 2010 and 2014. The majority of these deaths in NYC involved opioids, with heroin being the most predominant.
In a previous review in 2015, researchers surveyed 440 drug injectors in NYC and found that nearly two-thirds (60%) of active injectors use public locations, such as public bathrooms, for injections.
Currently there are a growing number of syringe exchange programs (SEP) across the U.S. that can provide people who inject drugs with sterile injecting equipment.
However, they are not authorized to offer a safe and sanitary space for injection. Many injectors tend to inject in public bathrooms.
Public injection has been associated with a variety of health risks, such as syringe sharing, overdose, rushed injection, incarceration, and the transmission of HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B.
In a new study conducted by the New York University, researchers looked at the frequency of business manager encounters with drug use occurring in their business bathroom.
The results were published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
A total of 86 business managers participated in the survey. Among them, 58% (50 managers) reported encounters with drug use in their business bathrooms in the past 6 months.
The research team found that managers reported a median of three encounters with drug use per month. 14% (7 managers) called 911 due to encounters with unresponsive users.
Nearly half of managers who called 911 requested both law enforcement and EMS, suggesting the calls were not solely made because of disruptive behavior, but out of concern for the individual’s health.
Additionally, over a third of managers found improperly disposed syringes in their business’ bathrooms, putting the injector, community members, and staff at risk of needle sticks and potentially HIV, HCV, and HBV infection.
The survey found that only 10% of these managers reported some type of overdose recognition and naloxone training. Unsurprisingly, 64% thought this training would be useful.
The researchers also suggest the operation of supervised injection facilities (SIF)/drug consumption rooms (DCR).
These are places where people are legally allowed to use illicit drugs under the supervision of medical staff to prevent overdose mortalities, the spread of disease, and reduce the improper disposal of syringes and public injecting.
In the long term, the researchers hope to help reduce the dangers of public drug injection and improve the overall health of people who use drugs and their communities.
News source: New York University.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is for illustrative purposes only.