Safer drug consumption facilities: evidence paper

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


Glasgow City continues to see high numbers of people who inject drugs. The number has remained consistent for the last 6 years and the impact of drug harms remains concerning. Drug related Deaths and non-fatal overdoses in the city centre area are now at an all-time high, and would appear to be increasing. Levels of poly-drug use continue to increase as well as the use of cocaine, sharing of needles and batch preparation of drugs.

Evidence of public injecting remains consistent and complaints from members of the public, community and businesses within the city centre continue. Public injecting has not decreased and the impact of this can be felt across the city from residents, those who inject drugs and businesses/shops.

A recent study conducted by the Drug Deaths Task Force also found that family members of those with drug addiction, and decision makers were supportive as a whole of implementing safer drug consumption facilities as part of a harm reduction intervention within Scotland. Their views showed that SDCFs should be part of a public health approach.[20]

SDCFs are hygienic environments where pre-obtained drugs can be consumed under clinical supervision. They are also able to provide people who inject drugs with sterile injecting equipment, advice on injecting technique, assistance in the event of an overdose (naloxone, defibrillator and oxygen) and access to other health and social services.

There is strong evidence that providing a SDCF can support a reduction in harm-related injection practices – including sharing of equipment and public injecting among SDCF clients. SDCFs do not appear to undermine existing addiction treatments and may provide successful pathways into treatment and recovery.

Studies from multiple countries show that SDCFs are able to engage with people who use drugs and offer support to connect with addiction treatment services. They are also able to provide or refer those most at risk of injecting-related harms to many additional services. This can include; wound dressing, medication provision, take home naloxone, as well as specialist services such as diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, oral health services and Opiate Substitute Therapy. A SDCF can also provide links with services to housing and mental health interventions.



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