Heroin addicts will be able to get their fix legally and safely in the UK’s first official self-injection room.
The clinic, which will open in Glasgow, will allow drug users to inject themselves with medical-grade heroin using sterile needles. Those attending the facility will be supervised by medical professionals and it is hoped the initiative will make the city safer for addicts.
The proposal has been approved in principle by a multi-agency committee made up of Glasgow’s police force, city council and health board. The Glasgow City Integration Joint Board believes the scheme could reduce the number of dirty needles abandoned on the city’s streets as well as helping those with substance misuse problems to access help and services.
However, some people have criticised the idea, suggesting that making drug use safer and easier may move the focus away from encouraging addicts to get treatment.
Facilities exist in other countries
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde first started looking into the idea in June and the scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK. However, there are similar types of facilities in 10 other nations, including France, Switzerland, Germany and Australia.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s director of public health Emilia Crighton said: “Most of Europe is providing addiction services. There are safe consumption rooms – Switzerland has a model where there is heroin-assisted treatment and opiates-replacement treatment that satisfies the needs of the population.
“So we really have to find a solution that brings the solutions elsewhere in the world to Glasgow.”
By making sure addicts are using clean syringes, the rooms could potentially reduce the risk of infections like HIV spreading among drug users in the city. It could also reduce the likelihood of heroin users overdosing on a bad batch as the drug they will be given to inject themselves with will not have been mixed with other potentially harmful substances.
The injecting rooms will be offered alongside more traditional treatment options as well as access to healthcare, counselling and advice on welfare and housing issues.
Drug testing can be useful when it comes to identifying individuals who are misusing substances and monitoring their recovery. AlphaBiolabs provides drug testing services to a range of agencies and organisations as well as offering tests to members of the public.