By Jarryd Bartle
Supervised drug consumption rooms (sometimes referred to as ‘safe injecting rooms’ or ‘overdose prevention centres’) allow people who use illicit drugs to consume substances whilst under the supervision of trained staff. Drug consumption facilities aim to reduce risks of disease transmission, overdose and public nuisance whilst also providing a location for people who have substance dependence to access treatment, employment, and housing support services.
The UK currently does not have any supervised drug consumption rooms, although proposals for facilities have been made by local agencies in West Midlands, North Wales, Southampton, Glasgow, and Bristol. In 2016, the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended that consideration be given to the potential of drug consumption rooms within areas of high injecting drug use in order to reduce drug related deaths. The government response was that no plans existed to introduce drug consumption rooms in the UK.
A 2018 survey of injecting drug users in the UK found that a large majority (89%) expressed willingness to use a drug consumption room and accepted the need for rules within such facilities such as no drug sharing (84.3%), no assistance with injecting (81.8%), compulsory supervision (76.7%) and compulsory hand washing (92.1%).8 The following paper will outline the need for drug consumption rooms in the UK, evidence supporting their use and considerations for implementation at a local level.