CGL (Change, Grow, Live) are the first drug and alcohol treatment provider to recognise that “Safer Consumption Rooms deliver an evidence-based approach to providing health services to some of the hardest-to-reach heroin users”.

Safer consumption rooms, also named as ‘drug consumption rooms’, are facilities where illicit drugs can be consumed under the supervision of trained staff. They have been proven to:

  • reach those who are the most marginalised and most at risk of drug related harm
  • prevent overdoses and drug related deaths
  • reduce risky injecting practices
  • increase uptake in treatment
  • reduce public injecting
  • reduce drug related litter

Drug consumption rooms have moved up the agenda since the UK has witnessed the highest number of drug related deaths on record, and although there are roughly 100 drug consumption rooms legally in operation worldwide, so far, none have been established in the UK.

However, in a move which hints the tide may be turning, Prun Bijral, CGL’s Clinical Director, has stated that:

We recognise that entering structured treatment is not always possible, or even desired by some individuals, and these people would be most likely to benefit from Safer Consumption Rooms. While we are not currently looking to establish any facilities of this nature, we would certainly be open to working with any of our commissioners who may wish to consider this initiative.

Commissioners who may be considering drug consumption rooms will now have the support of one of the UK’s largest and most established drug and alcohol treatment providers. CGL’s cautiously written statement marks a turning point as there are currently no other treatment providers who have offered a public position on drug consumption rooms, let alone a favourable one.

For CGL’s full statement, please scroll down:

The new supervised drug consumption facility in Copenhagen (Steve Rolles)
The new supervised drug consumption facility in Copenhagen (Photo: Steve Rolles)

CGL Position Statement on Safer Consumption Rooms (aka Drug Consumption Rooms)

Safer Consumption Rooms deliver an evidence-based approach to providing health services to some of the hardest-to-reach heroin users. These facilities do not currently exist in the UK, despite having been established in some European cities for a number of years.

We understand the importance of targeting high-risk individuals who are less likely to engage in treatment, and we address this challenge by prioritising outreach (including mobile treatment services), close liaison with partner agencies such as hostels and rough sleeper services, and the provision of effective needle exchange programmes. 

Through our community networks we have also widely distributed Naloxone kits to give individuals a second chance at recovery if they should inadvertently overdose.

We recognise that entering structured treatment is not always possible, or even desired by some individuals, and these people would be most likely to benefit from Safer Consumption Rooms. While we are not currently looking to establish any facilities of this nature, we would certainly be open to working with any of our commissioners who may wish to consider this initiative.

– Prun Bijral December 2016

Take a look at Nigel Brunsdon’s photo essay on Swansea – wherein he discusses how the introduction of a drug consumption room in the Welsh city would be a great stride towards improving the health of local vulnerable drug users.

Discarded syringe filled with unidentified fluid. (Photo: Nigel Brunsdon)

 

 

Lizzie McCulloch is a Policy Advisor at Volteface – read her report ‘Black Sheep: An Investigation into Existing Support for Problematic Cannabis Use’Tweets @mccullochlizzie1

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