Westmoreland County Sheetz store tests blue lights to deter heroin users from shooting up in its restrooms

NEW KENSINGTON, Westmoreland County — A Sheetz store in is testing out blue-hued lights in its restrooms in an attempt to deter drug use, store officials told Triblive.com.

The new lighting system has been in place for three months at the New Kensington Sheetz, Triblive says. That store, located on 325 Freeport St. in Parnassus, is the only one currently using the new lights.

The blue tint is intended to make it more difficult for heroin users trying to inject the drug in the store’s restrooms to see their veins.

Westmoreland County has seen a continuous rise in overdose deaths over the past nine years, Triblive.com says.

Nick Ruffner, public relations manager at Sheetz, issued the following statement on behalf of the company:

“One of our highest priorities at Sheetz is creating a safe and secure environment for our customers and employees.  The light system in the restrooms at this New Kensington store is designed to help our customers and employees avoid dangerous situations. This system is being tested at just this store for the time being and it is too early to see the full results at this time or discuss any plans to expand this test.”

Not everyone thinks the new lights will do much to deter drug use, according to Triblive.

Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director at Gateway Rehab, told the website that most heroin addicts are very familiar with where their veins are.

“(They) could probably find a vein with their eyes closed if they had to,” he told Triblive. “I am not sure if it is going to have a significant impact, but it is probably worth a try.”

Tim Phillips, executive director of Westmoreland County’s Drug Overdose Task Force, told Triblive that what Sheetz is doing is “commendable,” but he doesn’t think the blue light system is going to stop people from using drugs.

“The bottom line is, if they’re going to shoot dope, it’s not going to stop them,” Phillips said. “You can find a vein just simply by feeling. It might be an initial distraction, but I really don’t think it’s going to deter them a whole lot.”