Heroin addiction among young adults between 18 and 25 has doubled in the past 10 years. A percentage of those addicts will die needlessly from a preventable overdose. Below is a sequence of events that heroin overdose survivors often face in this country.

Typically, with any known overdose, someone calls 911. Paramedics arrive and administer Narcan while police issue a felony citation for possession on the still-unconscious addict.

Eventually, the young man or woman goes to court and falls into a Kafkaesque labyrinthine legal bureaucracy for decades — a system that fails not only the addict but also the community of which the addict is a member.

What is the alternative? Methadone treatment programs? Many Oregon communities don’t have them. There are two clinics in Lane County. Both have long waiting lists. Without immediate access into these clinics, addicts will continue to use, and many will overdose and die alone behind locked bathroom doors.

Safe injection sites would reduce emergency services calls, emergency room admissions, and the transmission of hepatitis C and other diseases. Such sites would also provide a nurturing context of care and understanding that supports detox and rehabilitation through admission referrals, treatment contact information and counseling services.

No one can recover from addiction if they are dead. Please support safe injection sites.

Jonathan Guske