With drug overdoses hitting record levels—resulting in over 300 deaths annually among King County residents—Seattle-area musicians Jenn Champion, John Roderick, and SassyBlack, plus Sub Pop CEO Megan Jasper today have kickstarted a media campaign in support of the Yes to SCS organization. In conjunction with the Public Defender Association, the movement strives to emphasize the crucial benefits of building a safe consumption space in Seattle.
As the name implies, SCSs are "where people can legally use previously obtained drugs under the supervision of healthcare professionals who provide support, safe and sterile equipment, and overdose prevention," according to Yes to SCS's website. With more than three decades of service and over 100 sites globally, safe consumption spaces have made a dramatic impact in reducing overdose deaths, in improving users' overall health, and in offering resources for treatment. The Seattle City Council has allocated $1.3 million for the creation of a local SCS in this year's budget, and is currently collaborating with King County to scout for locations.
As drug addiction afflicts musicians to an inordinate degree, it makes sense that members from the music community would devote their time and resources to this project. Below, Champion, Roderick, SassyBlack, and Jasper explain why they're lending their voices to Yes to SCS.
Jenn Champion (aka S): “As a teenager, I was an IV drug user. Lack of means meant lack of access to clean needles and safe injection sites. When I look back on the many precarious and dangerous choices I made, when I felt like I had no choices, I am amazed at my luck. Not everyone is that lucky. Yearly, more people under 50 are dying as a result of the current opioid crisis than from guns, or car accidents. We must recognize the need to address this crisis from every angle and access to sterile and safe sites to consume drugs will save lives. I can tell you this: you are much more likely to get treatment if you don’t feel like you have to hide from the world.”
John Roderick (the Long Winters): “We’ve all lost too many friends and fellow artists to overdose. Wonderful people, who meant a lot to me and to the cultural life of this city, gone too soon. Every single person I’ve known who’s died from overdose was isolated and alone when it happened. Whatever your theory of addiction recovery is, whether it’s tough love or religion or whatever, if someone dies alone in a parked car, or huddled under a freeway bridge – it’s too late. SCSs in Seattle will save lives. They’ll save the city millions of dollars in revolving door emergency service calls. They are judgment-free, humane, sensible and hygienic and will play a big part in finding a long-term solution to this epidemic. Seattle is where it should begin in King County.”
SassyBlack: “The war on drugs has always been a war on people – particularly poor people and people of color. Criminalizing drug use is the driving force of mass incarceration and the most expensive and least effective way to address what is fundamentally a public health problem. We have lost many great musicians to overdose. Countless other people have been lost to prisons, to stigma and shame. Let’s end the stigma and embrace compassionate care.”
Megan Jasper: “I believe that SCSs are a long overdue intervention to combat the overdose epidemic. This crisis has touched the lives of nearly everyone in our community. Opening these sites is a proven 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. More delays means more suffering and more lives cut short. The time for SCS is right now.”