Drug consumption rooms

Supervised injection facilities, safe consumption rooms, safe injection sites, fix rooms, safer injection facilities, drug consumption facilities, medically supervised injection centres

Drug consumption rooms (DCRs) are places where illicit drugs can be taken under the supervision of trained staff, in a sterile environment. They have been operating in Europe for the last three decades and can now be found in cities in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Denmark, Australia and Canada.

DCRs are a harm reduction initiative aimed at providing a safe and clean place for users to inject. They aim to:

  • Reduce overdose deaths.
  • Reduce the transmission of blood borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B/C.
  • Reduce and treat infection-related wounds and infections
  • Provide a chance for drug users to touch base with health care staff, social workers, and others who can help them.
  • Provide a chance to make contact with hard to reach drug users
  • Benefit the surrounding community by reducing drug related litter and the visibility of drug using.

Facilities available onsite often include the drug naloxone which can reverse an opioid overdose, a defibrillator to use in the case of a cardiac arrest and the availability of oxygen to be used in the case of respiratory depression.

Watch this EMCDDA video of a DCR in operation

The UK Government’s view on drug consumption rooms has changed and is now that it is up to local areas to consider what services would best meet their population needs. This should enable a possible arrangement between police and local stakeholders to legally provide such services.

Further reading:

Safer drug consumption facilities: A briefing paper (2021) | Scottish Government, UK In view of Scotland’s very high rate of drug related deaths there have been many calls for the implementation of DCRs.

Scottish Affairs Committee calls for decriminalisation and safe drug consumption room (2019)

Perceptions and attitudes of strategic decision-makers and affected families across Scotland towards Drug Consumption Rooms to prevent drug-related deaths (2021) | University of Stirling, UK

The European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has produced an in depth study of European drug consumption rooms (2018)

Room for improvement: How drug consumption rooms save lives (PDF), 2019
A new report by Jarryd Bartle, a drug policy consultant and university lecturer, calls for Britain to introduce life-saving Drug Consumption Rooms | Adam Smith Institute, UK

Reducing Opioid-Related Deaths in the UK (2016)
This report from the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended that ‘consideration is given – by the governments of each UK country and by local commissioners of drug treatment services – to the potential to reduce DRDs and other harms through the provision of medically-supervised drug consumption clinics in localities with a high concentration of injecting drug use’.

Updated October 2021