5 Reasons We need Drug Consumption Rooms in the UK
Updated: Feb 22
"By facilitating this drug taking, these facilities are then able to connect high-risk drug users with addiction treatment and other health services."
Drug consumption rooms (DCR’s) or safe consumption facility (SCF) are supervised facilities where drug users can safely consume drugs with protection and support from trained staff and medical professionals. Initiatives such as these have been in place across Europe for some 30 years, working towards preventing the transfer of disease and fatal overdoses. By facilitating this drug taking, these facilities are then able to connect high-risk drug users with addiction treatment and other health services. This supervision can be extended beyond injectable drugs and can be adapted to facilitate safe consumption of inhalable drug users.
“By addressing drug addiction in a way that humanises those effected, the underlying issues which cause these individuals to turn to drugs may then also be tackled.”
Drug Consumption rooms can:
1. Reduce the prevalence of public injecting (Salmon et al., 2007).
2. Decrease the number of publicly discarded needles, in Barcelona the number of collected syringes dropped from 13,132 in 2004, to 3,190 by 2012 (Vecino et al., 2013).
3. Significantly reduce the burden of opioid-related overdoses on ambulance call outs (Salmon et al., 2010).
4. Offer the potential to reduce the prevalence of street disorder and encounters with police (DeBeck et al., 2011).
5. Reductions in behaviour that increase the risk of HIV-transmissions (MILLOY and WOOD, 2009).
Wider Benefits to the Community
The societal benefits gained from the existence of drug consumptions rooms are multifaceted and have numerous down stream effects that ultimately conserve vital funds and supplies, whilst also supporting highly marginalised members of society. By addressing drug addiction in a way that humanises those effected, the underlying issues which cause these individuals to turn to drugs may then also be tackled. For many, traumatic events have plagued their life from an early age. Adverse Childhood Events (ACE’s) might include exposure to or experience of psychological, physical, or sexual abuse; household dysfunction; or living with household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal, or ever imprisoned (Hughes et al., 2017; Felitti et al., 2019). Individuals who have experienced four or more of childhood exposure compared to those with no exposure are four to twelve times more likely to suffer from alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, or from a suicide attempt (Felitti et al., 2019). The damaging effects of ACE’s can even extend to sexual health, mental health, weight, physical exercise, violence and physical health status.
“As a nation, we are failing drug users”
As a nation we are currently failing drug users who are often some of the most vulnerable members of our society. As our knowledge surround these issues increases, we will become increasingly aware of the factors that precede substance abuse and ultimately move towards a system where we are able to identify the individuals who are most at risk and provide support before addictions can be established.
DeBeck, K. et al.(2011) ‘Injection drug use cessation and use of North America’s first medically supervised safer injecting facility’, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 113(2–3), pp. 172–176. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.07.023.
Felitti, V. J. et al. (2019) ‘Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Elsevier, 56(6), pp. 774–786. doi: 10.1016/J.AMEPRE.2019.04.001.
Hughes, K. et al. (2017) ‘The effect of multiple adverse childhood experiences on health: a systematic review and meta-analysis.’, The Lancet. Public health. Elsevier, 2(8), pp. e356–e366. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30118-4.
MILLOY, M. ‐J. and WOOD, E. (2009) ‘[Commentary] EMERGING ROLE OF SUPERVISED INJECTING FACILITIES IN HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS PREVENTION’, Addiction. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 104(4), pp. 620–621. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02541.x.
Salmon, A. M. et al. (2007) ‘Five years on: What are the community perceptions of drug-related public amenity following the establishment of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre?’, International Journal of Drug Policy, 18(1), pp. 46–53. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2006.11.010.
Salmon, A. M. et al. (2010) ‘The impact of a supervised injecting facility on ambulance call-outs in Sydney, Australia’, Addiction, 105(4), pp. 676–683. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02837.x.
Vecino, C. et al. (2013) ‘[Safe injection rooms and police crackdowns in areas with heavy drug dealing. Evaluation by counting discarded syringes collected from the public space].’, Adicciones, 25(4), pp. 333–8. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24217502 (Accessed: 2 August 2019).