When I first moved to Seattle in 1989 it seemed like everyone knew someone who had experienced an overdose; it was fairly common. Over the years, I watched our music community suffer as we grieved the loss of yet another wildly talented musician or a fixture in our scene whose life ended too soon. These losses happened at such an alarming frequency and still, with each occurrence, we were rattled, broken and forced to pick up the pieces to do our best in moving forward, which sometimes seemed like an impossible task.
It feels different now. And by “different,” I mean worse. Now almost everyone I know has loved somebody who died from an overdose. And it is no longer just in our music community; it’s everywhere.
This crisis has touched the lives of everyone in our community and so many other communities in our city. Overdose rates are at record levels. Nearly one person every day is dying from overdose in Seattle. Sadly, most of them die alone, isolated and scared.
Almost every day, I see somebody crouching between cars, hiding behind a garage elevator, standing in a corner of a doorway or sitting in a stairwell using drugs. I find myself hoping that they find whatever help and resources might be available to them and I think about all of the people in their lives who love them. It is overwhelmingly heartbreaking.
Safe consumption spaces (SCSs) are a long overdue intervention to combat the overdose epidemic. They are a place where drug users can use previously obtained drugs without judgement and with access to medical assistance, clean water and toilet facilities, a sense of security, and overdose prevention.
SCSs are not a cure for addiction, but they are a proven, positive and compassionate solution that will reduce deaths and medical issues, restore public safety and community spaces, and connect people who use drugs with resources for treatment. These spaces have been saving lives for more than 30 years and there are now over 100 of these sites worldwide. After millions of injections in these safe spaces, there have been zero overdose deaths.
Seattle stands to be the first city in the United States to establish a legal SCS. Whether we are concerned for someone we love or frustrated with the public consumption and needles we see on streets and around public areas, Seattlites are at a point where something needs to change.
I’m proud to stand with others from Seattle’s music community to make sure that government bureaucracy does not derail the Seattle City Council and King County’s attempts to get this right. We must keep the pressure on elected officials to follow through on their commitment to create a safe consumption space here in Seattle. We must support Mayor Durkan and ensure that she places the same emphasis on this issue that we saw in the last Administration.
We’ve lost too many artists, fans, and friends to overdose deaths that were preventable. More delays mean more suffering and more lives cut short.
SCSs in Seattle will save lives. It’s time to say Yes to SCS.
Megan Jasper is the CEO of Sub Pop Records.