Opioid users flock to a safe place where they are monitored — and not judged

Credit: Jesse Costa, WBUR
Allison Bond, Photo: Jesse Costa

 

Tommy Blais was only 16 when a motorcycle accident left him with a painful broken bone and a dependence on prescription opioids. After his doctor tried to cut the number of pain pills Blais was taking, he found the drugs on the street and eventually turned to sniffing and injecting heroin. Now he’s in recovery, but not before seeing the dangers of illegal drugs.

“I’ve found people dead, and I’ve had people die in front of me,” said Blais. Before he quit, he had to be revived a number of times, with a shot of naloxone that got him breathing again. And he estimated he has resuscitated at least 30 other people with shots of the overdose antidote.

“The drug war has been lost,” he said. “We need new ways to help addicts.”

One of those new ways is SPOT, which opened in Boston earlier this year to give drug users a safe place to go when they’re high. A nurse monitors users for signs of an overdose, and the facility also connects people to rehab programs.

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