LEILA FADEL, HOST: Rhode Island is the first state to legalize supervised drug injection sites. The two-year pilot program calls for establishing safe places where people can use heroin and other illicit drugs. But even with a green light from state government, Lynn Arditi of The Public’s Radio says it may be months before the first supervised injection site can open. LYNN ARDITI, BYLINE: Representative Stephen Casey is an unlikely crusader for supervised injection sites. A Democrat, he’s also a Catholic and self-described conservative. He’s against abortion rights, and he supports the Second Amendment right to own a gun. STEPHEN CASEY: So my first reaction was, no way. As a rescue guy, I’m like, we can’t give them a shoot-up center. ARDITI: Casey is also a firefighter and licensed emergency medical technician in Woonsocket, R.I. CASEY: Guy comes home from work and goes into the bathroom. His wife doesn’t even know he’s doing it. And he ODs in the bathroom. ARDITI: EMTs try to revive people with naloxone, a medication that reverses an opioid overdose. But sometimes they don’t get there in time. Last year, 430 people in Rhode Island died of drug overdoses, the highest on record. Studies of supervised injection sites in Canada and Australia show they reduced fatal overdoses and lowered the number of overdose-related 911 emergency calls. The sites also were associated with less use of drugs in public outdoor spaces, and there was no apparent increase in crime. JOHN EDWARDS: Yeah, we’re going to […]

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