Brian Hackel, right, an overdose prevention specialist, helps Steven Baez, a client suffering addiction, find a vein to inject intravenous drugs at an overdose prevention center, OnPoint NYC, in New York, Feb. 18, 2022. Credit: Seth Wenig / AP

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Every overdose is a policy failure. As overdose rates in Maine continue to rise year over year, we simply cannot afford to continue down the same policy path we have been on. It is time we take bold action and join the growing number of states seeking to implement harm reduction health center programs around the country.

Harm reduction health centers have been implemented in other countries since the 1980s, and research shows they have a positive impact on the communities in which they’re located. The centers connect people to treatment and recovery support services as well as bridge gaps in other healthcare services. Harm reduction health centers reduce drug use in public, reduce improperly discarded syringes and provide a safe place so people do not have to use alone.

LD 1159 would establish a two-year pilot program of harm reduction health centers in Maine. This legislation costs the taxpayers nothing and allows for individual municipalities to approve facilities in their jurisdiction. Harm reduction health centers are currently saving lives and keeping people safe in communities all over the world, and we must bring these proven resources to Maine. People should tell their representatives to support LD 1159, and allow us the spaces to save our friends’ lives.

Nick Loscocco