Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 Extols Ithaca Plan at Town Hall
Svante Myrick ’09 discusses the benefits of The Ithaca Plan at a town hall in April. (Brittney Chew / Sun Assistant Photography Editor)
By DREW MUSTO
This story was first published on April 27 here.
Mayor Svante Myrick ’09, Ithaca Common Council and other Ithaca officials discussed The Ithaca Plan and development in Collegetown at a town hall meeting in Klarman Hall Atrium on April 26.
Myrick praised the promise of The Ithaca Plan, which centers on the creation of the nation’s first supervised heroin injection site in Ithaca as well as establishing heroin maintenance therapy programs.
“First, [the facility] saves lives,” he said. “Vancouver, where they have done this for 13 years — it’s been used two million times without a single overdose death. We have 30,000 people in this town. One person each month dies from opiate overdose in Ithaca, and 125 people will die today in America.”
Myrick also bolstered his plan with evidence from Switzerland’s injection facilities.
“In Switzerland, which has 23 supervised injection facilities, overdose deaths have decreased by two-thirds,” he explained. “If we had what Switzerland has in America, 5,000 fewer people would have died last year. The facility will keep people alive.”
Myrick added that the facility will reduce public heroin consumption and increase safety.
“Large crimes like rape, burglary and assault, and small crimes like graffiti and loitering, all went down around the Vancouver facility,” he said. “When you bring people indoors and into the light, you reduce all the negative externalities of drug use.”
The injection facility will also reduce HIV and hepatitis transmission rates, according to Myrick.
“These are diseases that should have been eradicated long ago, yet they are increasing in almost every county in New York State,” he said. “More people each month are getting HIV in New York state because of IV use. That will not happen at the supervised injection facility.”
Myrick added that the high cost of HIV medication adds pressure to the lives of users and could potentially exacerbate the strains that lead them to use heroin in the first place.
“Why is that? It’s complicated, but the simple reason is that the time immediately after you use is actually the time you have the least withdraw symptoms,” he explained. “So some users will have a moment of clarity immediately after use — they may decide they want to get clean.”
Visiting a supervised facility will also help users receive the help they need, according to Myrick.
“If you have that moment of clarity in front of somebody with whom you have built trust and rapport, and you know that they can get you treatment, you’re more likely to get treatment,” he said.
Myrick called the facility a “new approach,” saying it is a necessary change from the harmful policies of the war on drugs.
“The war on drugs — this trillion dollar effort that we have been waging since 1975 — has locked up more people in this country than any other country in the world,” Myrick said. “This has resulted in more black and brown men being under state control today than there were slaves in the 1860s.”
The Ithaca Plan, which Myrick originally announced in late February, is part of part of an effort to reduce drug usage and overdose rates in the community. However, Myrick had already begun working on combatting local drug usage two years earlier when he formed the Municipal Drug Policy Committee.
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