Two convenience store chains and a supermarket chain are working with the Loss Prevention Research Council for the installation of blue lights in their restrooms, in an attempt to fight back against the opioid crisis.

Opioid addiction is out of control, with one out of every five deaths among young people in 2016 due to opioid overdose and more drivers killed in car crashes testing positive for opioids and marijuana. Solutions such as the blue light experiment in retail stores are becoming badly needed.

Blue Lights To Prevent Drug Use

People have been taking advantage of the privacy offered by restrooms in public places, such as convenience stores and supermarkets, to inject themselves with drugs.

Blue lights are being installed in some restrooms, in a bid to deter drug users from hiding in the stalls for their fix. This is because the blue lights make it harder for them to see their veins.

"The hardest-core opiate user still wants to be accurate. They want to make sure the needle goes in the right spot," according to University of Florida researcher and Loss Prevention Research Council director Read Hayes.

One of the retail store chains participating in a field test with the Loss Prevention Research Council for the blue lights is Lancaster-based Turkey Hill Minit Markets. The council, which thinks of methods to fight against theft and crime in retail stores, said that while the test is still in its early stages, initial feedback from stores have been positive.

In some Turkey Hill stores, workers would often discover used needles and overdosed people in their restrooms, according to the chain's asset protection manager, Matt Dorgan. However, after over six months since Turkey Hill installed blue lights, Dorgan said that employees are "finding hardly anything anymore."

"It's a pretty dramatic reduction. We haven't had a single overdose," Dorgan said.

Solving The Opioid Crisis

The use of blue lights in public restroom to deter drug use is not a new idea. For example, convenience store chain Sheetz started trying blue lights in its stores last fall.

There have been critics of the experiment, saying that the blue lights cause drug users to injure themselves, and that the lights actually stigmatize the users during their highs. Some users, meanwhile, will not care about the blue light and use opioids as soon as they can.

However, the blue lights are being revisited due to the opioid crisis in the United States. Any and all methods should be used to address the opioid epidemic, which is claiming 115 American lives daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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