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Boston examining impact of heroin injection sites

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BOSTON - Monday afternoon Boston city council heard the pros and cons of safe injection facilities, where drug addicts can use heroin under medical supervision.

The Massachusetts Medical Society is urging state officials to open such a site within the City of Boston.

"In fact, if you don't have them in a facility with Narcan readily available. They'll die very quickly," said Dr. Henry Dorkin with the Massachusetts Medical Society. 

MORE: State to study drug injection facilities

John Griffin, an admitted drug addict, carries his own Narcan with him. 

“That will reverse an overdose. It took six of them to wake me up two weeks ago,” said John Griffin.

Griffin said he believes the city ought to establish safe injection facilities, where addicts can shoot up under medical supervision.

“I support them 100 percent,” he said.

>>MORE: Where the opioid crisis has hit the hardest in Massachusetts

Opponents said that safe injection sites do not get to the root issue - addiction. 

It's an existence. We need to figure out how we're going to save these people and it's not safe injection sites. 

"It's an existence. We need to figure out how we're going to save these people and it's not safe injection sites," said Sue Sullivan of the Newmarket Business Association. 

The state Department of Public Health says an average of six people a day have fatally overdosed on opioids in 2017, making it the state's top cause of accidental death so far this year.

City Councilors Anissa Essaibi-George and Frank Baker, who requested the hearing, say safe injection sites reduced fatal opioid overdoses by 35 percent in Vancouver, Canada.

>>MORE: Report: Massachusetts opioid overdose deaths continue to rise

However, not all councilors were convinced by the Vancouver statistics. 

“Two-hundred and sixty-three thousand visits a year by 6,500 individuals. And it has only 404 referrals to onsite detox,” said Frank Baker, city council member. 

For John Griffin, establishment of a safe injection site is not about detox, but life and death. He’s already lost quite a few friends this year.

“Personal friends...seven. People I care about would be another five,” he said.

Contributed reporting from the Associated Press

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