Retailers Equip Bathrooms With Blue Lights To Dissuade Drug Use
Retailers are getting creative with deterring drug use. This time, they're installing blue-tinted lighting in hopes of keeping people from shooting up in their stores.
Stores Get The Blues
Blue light makes it difficult for drug users to see their veins and inject. By changing their lighting to colored ones, store owners are hoping to discourage people from indulging there.
While it's not the first time that the idea has come up, the technique is currently having a resurgence due to the opioid epidemic sweeping through the country.
"The hardest-core opiate user still wants to be accurate," Read Hayes, a University of Florida researcher and director of the Loss Prevention Research Council, points out in USA Today. "They want to make sure the needle goes in the right spot."
The stores are hoping to force the drug users to go somewhere else.
Positive Feedback On Blue Light
Hayes' Loss Prevention Research Council, a group that is studying the effectiveness of using colored lights, has seen a positive response from the stores who have already installed blue bulbs.
The company Turkey Hill has already installed blue lights in as many as 20 stores and Matt Dorgan, the asset protection manager, reveals it made a world of difference. While employees used to find used needles and people overdosed in the bathrooms, now, the incidents have dropped dramatically.
"We're not finding hardly anything anymore," Dorgan says in USA Today. "It's a pretty dramatic reduction. We haven't had a single overdose."
Critics Speak Up
However, there are those who argue that people would rather risk shooting up in unsatisfactory conditions than face withdrawal symptoms.
In a paper published in 2010, 18 of the 31 participants who were interviewed say that they are prepared to inject themselves despite the blue light. Besides, the blue light is not even effective in all injecting practices, according to critics.
"It won't stop other types of injection, such as groin injections, where it's all done by feel, as well as jugular injections in the neck," Brett Wolfson-Stofko, a research associate at the National Development and Research Institute, explains in Inverse. "Neck and groin injections can be much more risky."
Public health experts stress that the lighting only stigmatizes people who are afflicted with addiction and make it more likely that they hurt themselves. Instead, other actions are recommended to protect store employees, clients, and drug users such as needle disposal containers.