EDITORIAL | Give addicts somewhere to put their waste

Parents definitely should not keep their children sheltered from the harsh reality of the heroin and opioid crisis plaguing this city and others — big and small — around the country.

But that doesn’t mean they should be forced to constantly pick up used needles and condoms from a pathway running along Lowell Elementary in Capitol Hill. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about getting Hepatitis C or worse while walking to school.

Kudos to the Seattle Department of Transportation for addressing this problem by shutting the pathway down for cleanup and to figure out a long-term solution. Though it sounds like this has been a persistent problem the city has finally pulled from its pile of delayed maintenance projects.

While it would be great if heroin users would just find someplace else to shoot their poison, that’s not likely. For the homeless, options are not plentiful.

So we are just going to reiterate our position, which is that the city and county take the forthcoming recommendations of a joint heroin and opioid task force and get right to work on fulfilling them — we’re fairly confident safe consumption sites, where needles go in a sharps box and not a bush at a park or school, will be among the recommendations. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, do it, do it now.

The path Lowell students and neighbors use regularly is quite small, compared to Seattle’s public parks, which are also popular places to inject, smoke and snort drugs. Think about the time, labor and cost that goes into these cleanups, then think about how quickly those efforts will be reversed, when people with addiction return to these freshly groomed spaces and start the cycle all over. If the idea is that cutting down vegetation to enhance visibility will discouraged drug use in certain place, then some people at the city don’t realize how little someone in the throes of addiction cares who sees them.

Safe consumption/injection spaces will come at a cost, but what’s the price comparison for what we’re dealing with now?

People using dirty needles can spread infections, either between other users or by carelessly tossing them somewhere for someone to find by accident. Last we checked, health care still sucks in this country.

Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs out there, and opiate-related deaths have tripled since 2009. Not only would safe consumption spaces provide a staff capable of preventing these overdose deaths through intervention, it would avoid the potential trauma a child may someday face when they stumble across an overdose victim on their way to school.

Honestly, if there is a big price tag attached to operating a number of safe consumption sites in King County — and there has to be — maybe the federal government could do us all a solid and make the pharmaceutical companies and terrible doctors, who have been dolling out opiates like candy for years, foot the bill.