Safer drug consumption facilities: evidence paper

This paper highlights the evidence in support of safer drug consumption facilities.


There are more than 100 Safer Drug Consumption Facilities (SDCFs) operating in at least 66 cities around the world, within 10 countries - Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Denmark, Australia and Canada. The EMCDDA[1] (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs & Drug Addiction) and the ACMD[2] (Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs) both support their use and highlight the significant body of evidence that demonstrate the effectiveness of these facilities.

The aims of SDCFs are to:

  • Reduce drug-related overdose deaths
  • Reduce the transmission of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C
  • Reduce infection-related wounds and infections
  • Reach people who inject drugs and who might otherwise not engage with any type of service
  • Benefit the surrounding community by reducing drug-related litter and the visibility of public drug use.
  • Gain valuable insight into trends and patterns in drug use
  • Engage with people who use drugs and connect them with addiction treatment services.

An SDCF will be able to provide medical attention in the case of an overdose. They are able to provide naloxone which reverses an opioid overdose. Within the facility there will also be 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.

In 2019 both the UK Parliament's Scottish Affairs Committee[3] and the Health and Social care Committee[4] recommended the use of these facilities as an approach to support those with multiple complex needs. The National Forum on Drug-Related Deaths, an independent advisory body of professional and lay representatives, has also recommended on a number of occasions that harm reduction services should be expanded to include SDCFs.

However, there are currently existing legal barriers to the opening of SDCFs in Scotland, despite both health and drugs policy being devolved matters.



Back to top