Seattle taxpayer-funded program’s mission includes ‘using drugs safely’

(The Center Square) – As Seattle is expected to receive millions of dollars in a nationwide opioid settlement amid record-level drug overdose deaths in the city, some council members are questioning the existing use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize drug use and its effectiveness in reducing substance addiction.

However, statements made by representatives of the organizations partnering with the city at a recent Public Safety & Human Services Committee meeting indicated that one of their primary objectives is to ensure users utilize drugs safely.

“I know it can be a little controversial, but one of the key tenets of harm reduction that I see is we want to be able to facilitate and champion autonomy of people who use drugs,” Hepatitis Education Project Director of Programs Amber Tejada said at the May 23 meeting.

Harm reduction treatment refers to giving drug addicts “safe” equipment such as pipes and inspecting the content of drugs being used. As part of the city-funded program, 20,000 “harm-reduction kits” have been distributed through Public Health Seattle-King County and other city partners.

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