Drug consumption rooms in the Netherlands


Drug consumption rooms in the Netherlands

1 July 2019

By Trimbos, Mainline, Correlation and NIHR

In the Netherlands, for many years drug consumption rooms (DCRs) are one of the harm reduction interventions run by addiction treatment and social relief services. The first formal drug consumption room was run by an addiction treatment service2 and opened its doors 10 June 1994 in Maastricht. Since then, the number of drug consumption rooms increased, primarily aiming for the reduction of drug-related nuisance in the streets and public spaces. In the 21st century, the need for specific drug consumption rooms decreased, due to the many initiatives that took place in the field of housing of homeless people who use drugs (PWUD) (such as hostels and ‘around the clock (24/7) shelters’). Changes in the objectives of DCRs were noted over time, as more facilities now have included health promotion for PWUD as a main target. And since the 2010s, addiction care services are shifting their objectives towards recovery, which includes societal, social and personal recovery.

When describing and defining a DCR, a number of key aspects always pop up: safer drug use, nuisance control and reduction of adverse health effects. In this inventory, we use the following definition: “Drug consumption rooms are facilities where (homeless) people struggling with a drug addiction can use their drugs in a hygienic and quiet environment, with social workers present in the background. Drug consumption rooms aim to reduce nuisance in the neighborhood and to reduce the adverse health effects of drug use“ (Standard of Care Opiate Addiction3 , 2017) (Zorgstandaard Opiaatverslaving, 2017). Aside from drug consumption rooms, there are also a number of alcohol consumption rooms in the Netherlands, aiming to reduce nuisance caused by drinking in public. However, in this report we focus on DCRs.

Drug consumption rooms in the Netherlands were last monitored in 2013 (Laghaei et al., 2013). In 2013, for the first time since the monitoring of DCRs since 2000 (Linssen et al, 2002), a decrease in number was noted; 31 DCRs in 2013 compared to 37 in 2010 (Havinga & Van der Poel, 2011). In order to keep track of DCR developments over the years, a periodic inventory is needed. Therefore, Trimbos Institute, Mainline and Correlation/ European Harm Reduction Network initiated this new inventory.