Drug addicts leaving used hypodermic needles in public spaces

Posted: Updated:
Used needles are being spotted in public places and one group has solutions to keep the public safe. (Source: CBS 5) Used needles are being spotted in public places and one group has solutions to keep the public safe. (Source: CBS 5)
Brian Thoi says homeless drug users and those who want to hide their drug use “shoot up” in public places because they don’t have a safer, private alternative. (Source: CBS 5) Brian Thoi says homeless drug users and those who want to hide their drug use “shoot up” in public places because they don’t have a safer, private alternative. (Source: CBS 5)
Thoi recommends installing needle disposal receptacles in public restrooms to keep the public safe from dirty needles. (Source: CBS 5) Thoi recommends installing needle disposal receptacles in public restrooms to keep the public safe from dirty needles. (Source: CBS 5)
He also wants a plan to provide safe spaces for addicts to use, spaces that are away from families and children. (Source: CBS 5) He also wants a plan to provide safe spaces for addicts to use, spaces that are away from families and children. (Source: CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A CBS 5 investigation found used hypodermic needles left near light rail stops, city parks and public restrooms. Advocates for homeless drug addicts say there is more that government officials can do to protect the rest of the public.

“It’s a huge issue and big health concern,” said Brian Thoi, who is a board member of Sonoran Prevention Works. The organization advocates for the health and the well-being of those affected by substance abuse.

Thoi says homeless drug users and those who want to hide their drug use “shoot up” in public places because they don’t have a safer, private alternative.

“If you don’t give those options to people then they’re left with the options of disposing on the street, improperly in trash cans, in public places, in public restrooms,” said Thoi.

This is an issue the firefighters at Phoenix’s Station 18 are all too familiar with.

“Bathrooms, restaurants, fast food places, bus stops, light rail stations,” said Capt. Kevin Duzy, who has seen drug use, drug paraphernalia and responded to overdoses at all of the places he mentioned.

“You never know where you’re going to run into, you know, dirty needles or paraphernalia. It could be anywhere in a public place,” said Duzy.

Thoi argues that what is missing in the policy debates taking place in city halls, state capitols and in Washington, D.C. is a realistic discussion of what can be done to cut down on disease and keep the general public safe. He recommends installing needle disposal receptacles in public restrooms, as well as coming up with a plan to provide safe spaces for addicts to use, spaces that are away from families and children.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

Hide bio