New York City opened the nation’s first officially sanctioned supervised consumption sites (SCSs) last December in response to the city’s growing drug crisis. The SCSs in East Harlem and Washington Heights provide people who use drugs with a place to consume drugs under the supervision of medical professionals, who are armed with overdose-reversing naloxone. The stated goal of supervised consumption sites is to reduce the individual harms associated with drug use.
Harm reduction is rapidly becoming a central theme in drug policy. But there is still much we don’t know about how, or whether, such interventions work. Does a more accepting stance toward drug use reduce overdose deaths? Do SCSs curb or contribute to public disorder? Are harm reduction interventions scalable, and do we know what success looks like? These are difficult but important questions. So far, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been frustratingly opaque about its plans to evaluate the effects of the first American SCSs.
This Klinsky Leadership Series event will explore the debates around New York City’s SCSs and the harm reduction strategies informing their implementation.