[Ed. – What could go wrong?]
In 2015, Mike Pence was in a tight spot. As the governor of Indiana, he was staring down a public health crisis when hundreds of people were contracting HIV by using dirty needles to inject opioids. Pence knew he needed to do something quick to quell the outbreak but was fundamentally opposed to the solution that health experts were suggesting: a needle exchange program where drug addicts can trade in their used, dirty syringes for new, sterile ones.
Some worry that such programs encourage illegal drug use. But research generally shows that needle exchanges reduce the likelihood that diseases like HIV will spread. So Pence relented to the health experts, and the outbreak was quickly contained.
But if many politicians are reluctant to embrace needle exchanges, then they’ll likely have a hard time with the latest frontier in the fight against opioid abuse: supervised injection facilities.
At these facilities, medical professionals provide addicts with sterile injection equipment so they can safely use illegal drugs they obtained from outside. They can also wait out the high and get information about and referrals to treatment.