Drug Consumption Rooms
Earlier on this year in September the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the Harper government couldn’t close the Insite safer injection facility in Vancouver. Insite, which in 2009 had over 250,000 visits from people using its facilities, opened in 2003. In the time it has been operating it has received strong local support especially from the Mayors of Vancouver who irrespective of their party have always fought to keep it open.
In 2009, almost 500 people overdosed on the premises but because of the medical staff on hand none of these people died. Staff at Insite (and other facilities like it around the world) provide advice on safer injecting, sterile equipment, wound care and a safe warm place to use rather than injecting in public areas of the city. Insite also helps people access treatment services and rehabs directly.
In the UK there have been previous calls to pilot drug consumption rooms, not only from organisations like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (paper A, paper B) but also from David Cameron who in 2002 voted in favour of supervised injecting rooms being launched in the UK.
However, there are also many people who suggest that opening drug consumption rooms sends out the wrong message to people using drugs, and that providing injectors with somewhere that removes many of the risks of injecting may give them a false sense of security.