Project Weber/Renew, a Rhode Island-based group providing drug users in Providence’s poorest neighborhoods with clean needles, treatment, housing and empathy, is preparing to open the first legalized supervised drug consumption site in the country, reports Noah Weiland for the New York Times. Relying on a strategy that could serve as a national example for addressing drug use, Project Weber hopes to curb overdose deaths (435 in 2021) and infectious diseases and coax more users into using medication and supplies for safer experiences.
Rhode Island has authorized a two-year trial that Project Weber and Victa, a partner treatment organization, anticipate leading. The facility’s location, set to be on a bus line, close to a hospital and far from schools, will allow the group’s staff to work with users, earn their trust, link them to other services, and offer treatment options to interested parties only. In addition, the program will offer H.I.V. and hepatitis C testing, supplies for safer drug use, syringe disposal, drug checking tools, injection wound treatment, and initial doses of buprenorphine, a medication that eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings, to those who want it.