Burlington, VT — The Burlington City Council has voted in favor of researching the opening of an overdose prevention site, while state officials continue to question the benefits of these facilities.
“This resolution really calls for the state to take action on overdose prevention sites acknowledging that 215 Vermonters died last year as a result of an opioid-related overdose that is the highest number that the department of health has ever recorded,” said Ward 3 Burlington City Councilor Joe Magee.
Magee says safe injection sites serve as a safe place for those using drugs while connecting them to resources that may encourage recovery. “It’s hard to see why we wouldn’t take this step, here in Vermont and other places around the country.”
In June, Governor Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have allowed safe injection sites. In a statement, the governor’s office said, “This issue has been reviewed by the Health Department and the Opioid Coordination Council before it, and they have determined it is not the right approach for Vermont. Instead, we should focus on proven, evidence-based approaches.”
According to the Vermont Department of Health, Chittenden County had 15 opioid-related deaths from January to April this year.
The proposed overdose prevention site would be staffed with professionals trained to reverse an overdose. Magee emphasizes that action needs to be taken now.
“We can’t afford to wait for folks who are struggling with substance abuse disorder can’t afford for us to continue to nibble around the edges,” he said. “We need to take this action and start saving lives.”
This resolution also calls for Mayor Miro Weinberger to proclaim August 31st an ‘International Overdose Awareness Day’ and September as ‘Recovery Month’.