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Myrick: Supervised Injection Proposal Pushed The Treatment Conversation

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2016 file photo, Ithaca, N.Y. Mayor Svante Myrick questions Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro during a Community Development and Housing Standing Committee meeting at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington. Myrick wants his city to be the first in the U.S. to offer a supervised injection facility, where heroin users would be able to shoot up under the care of a nurse. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick made headlines last year for his plan to combat the heroin epidemic. The most controversial idea is to build a supervised injection site.

That’s where people can use drugs under medical supervision.

Myrick thinks the proposal’s made the conversation around drug policy more progressive. In an interview, Myrick said supervised injection has helped increase funding to other drug-related programs, because it got so much attention.

“I'll confess that I didn't think it was, you know, front page New York Times big. I thought it would dominate the local news for a couple of weeks, and it's now been over a year," he said. “That brought all kinds of funding from the state and the federal government and the private sector.”

For an example, he pointed to a new detox center that’s in the planning stages.

Overall, Myrick said, the conversation has changed because of supervised injection.

“If [supervised injection] weren't in there, the most controversial thing about the plan would be methadone, usually a discussion that will pull apart a community and create reactionaries," he said. "Now, because supervised injection is in there, [methadone] seems moderate."

Methadone is a medication that helps people addicted to opioids.

As for supervised injection, that’s a long way off. The proposal still hasn’t passed the Tompkins County or New York State legislature.