A new study from New York University confirms what many New York Residents and families of drug users have the misfortune of already knowing: public bathrooms are common locations for heroin addicts to inject the drug. This particular study focused on public bathrooms in businesses and office buildings, sampling business managers who have had encounters with overdose at their workplaces. Many businesses in NYC offer public restrooms. Researchers suggest that the findings warrant increased Narcan training for business managers that encounter overdose in their places of business on a regular basis; this training would include helping participants recognize the signs of potentially fatal overdose so they can save lives.

Last year, a survey of 440 drug injectors in NYC conducted by the Injection Drug Users Health Alliance found nearly two-thirds (60%) of active injectors surveyed reported using public locations, such as public bathrooms, in the last three months for injections. As dangerous as active injection-drug use is on its own, exposure to environments like public bathrooms and subway platforms dramatically increases the chance of disease, including HIV, hepatitis C (HCV), and hepatitis B (HBV) and more. More research like this sparks further conversation regarding the peripheral risks of public injection and the possibility of alternatives to mitigate this collateral damage.

One of the more controversial suggestions that is emerging from the study is that of supervised injection facilities in which addicts can take drugs in a sterile environment and have the benefit of expert intervention in the event of overdose. Researchers say these facilities are practical, cost-effective strategies that would more than likely reduce public injecting and overdose mortality in New York City and assist in linking this population to health services and drug treatment just as they have in other cities throughout the world.

The study bas been entitled “Drug Use in Business Bathrooms: An exploratory study of manager encounters in New York City” and was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.