National News

Drug addicts leave used hypodermic needles in public spaces

Posted November 22, 2017 10:55 a.m. EST

— A CBS 5 investigation found used hypodermic needles left near light rail stops, city parks and public restrooms. Advocates for homeless drug addicts say there is more that government officials can do to protect the rest of the public.

"It's a huge issue and big health concern," said Brian Thoi, who is a board member of Sonoran Prevention Works. The organization advocates for the health and the well-being of those affected by substance abuse.

Thoi says homeless drug users and those who want to hide their drug use "shoot up" in public places because they don't have a safer, private alternative.

"If you don't give those options to people then they're left with the options of disposing on the street, improperly in trash cans, in public places, in public restrooms," said Thoi.

This is an issue the firefighters at Phoenix's Station 18 are all too familiar with.

"Bathrooms, restaurants, fast food places, bus stops, light rail stations," said Capt. Kevin Duzy, who has seen drug use, drug paraphernalia and responded to overdoses at all of the places he mentioned.

"You never know where you're going to run into, you know, dirty needles or paraphernalia. It could be anywhere in a public place," said Duzy.

Thoi argues that what is missing in the policy debates taking place in city halls, state capitols and in Washington, D.C. is a realistic discussion of what can be done to cut down on disease and keep the general public safe. He recommends installing needle disposal receptacles in public restrooms, as well as coming up with a plan to provide safe spaces for addicts to use, spaces that are away from families and children.