The NY Safe Shape Tour is making a stop in Buffalo Wednesday to raise awareness of safe injection sites. These are locations where addicts can consume different drugs (that they have already purchased elsewhere) in a clean environment with health workers nearby who can act in the event of an overdose.
It's one style of "harm-reduction" that has been seen in other places across the world, including Canada. Harm-reduction techniques are used to try and slow the deadly and dangerous outcomes drug addicts can experience, like deadly overdoses, the spread of disease and avoidable hospital visits.
Other, more common, harm-reduction techniques are Methadone clinics and training people to administer naloxone to save people who are overdosing.
From 1-5 P.M. in Lafayette Square, a pop-up exhibit that operates as a "mock safer consumption space" will be on display. There will be a screening of "Everywhere But Safe", a documentary about safe injection sites at Hotel Lafayette beginning at 6 P.M. followed by a panel and community discussion.
This is part of a statewide push calling for the creation of safe injection sites in New York. The tour is visiting cities hardest hit by the drug epidemic: Albany, Poughkeepsie, New York City, Ithaca, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
New York State saw a 71 percent increase in deaths from drug overdoses or drug abuse from 2010 to 2015. In the same time period, Erie County saw a 256 percent increase, according to organizers.
Event organizers say these sites are effective in the overall goal of creating a safe environment for illicit drug use: "Internationally, [safe consumption sites] have been tremendously effective in reducing rates of HIV infection, HCV infection, and overdose deaths, as well as improving public order by reducing improper syringe disposal and decreasing drug arrests."