December 20, 2017 – Addiction experts have been urging local governments to bolster efforts to address the nation’s drug epidemic. In Philadelphia, a newly-appointed health official shared her vision to help those struggling with the disease of addiction.
Allison Herens, the city health department’s harm-reduction coordinator, sat down with WHYY to discuss her plans to reduce the risks associated with drug use instead of focusing on stopping it completely. Her position was created last year by Mayor Jim Kenney’s special opioid task force. The job shifts perspective from the failed “Just Say No” era to one of a public health issue.
In the interview, Herens talks about the importance of her job, the role of education and naloxone (Narcan) in the battle against opioids, and the possibility of safe injection sites:
“[W]e need to meet people where they’re at, if we really want to have a widespread impact on this issue, because it’s really not just about fatal overdoses. There’s a million other factors that go into this: the spread of infectious diseases, HIV, hep C, there’s a lot to tackle with this issue.
How do we keep people safe? How do we keep our community safe? We really don’t want to lose any more people to this crisis. The drugs that we see on the street are just incredibly dangerous, incredibly potent, we want to make sure we’re being vigilant in terms of safety.”
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Read the full story from WHYY.