What Are Drug Consumption/Safe Injection Sites Or Facilities?
Supervised drug consumption facilities, where illicit drugs can be used under the supervision of trained staff, have been operating in Europe for the last three decades. These facilities primarily aim to reduce the acute risks of disease transmission through unhygienic injecting, prevent drug-related overdose deaths and connect high-risk drug users with addiction treatment and other health and social services.
Taking Things Mobile In Scotland
ALMOST two injections an hour have been carried out at the mobile drug consumption van set up by a volunteer in Glasgow city centre.
Peter Krykant set up the van after crowdfunding and using his own money, and is highlighting the need for a safe space for drug users to inject.
Last Friday, Peter parked the van in a quiet spot just yards from one of the city’s busiest streets and an alleyway known to be a busy injecting spot. Over the five previous Fridays, Peter and volunteers – trained in overdoes reversal drug Naloxone and CPR – had overseen 47 injections.
He operates for five hours a day, meaning that on average it works out at 1.88 injections for every hour the van has been available.
Peter said he knows that if there was an official site more people would use it. Later that day, his team attended to a potentially fatal overdose.
Peter said on Twitter that evening: “Our volunteers responded to an overdose today. Harm reduction heroes responded by calling an ambulance, administering Naloxone and waiting until paramedics arrived.”
“We need to do more. Needless deaths are happening every day.”Peter Krykant
He said that more injections were being supervised but added: “We need to do more. Needless deaths are happening every day.”
The van is modelled on a similar operation Peter visited in Copenhagen and has space for two people to inject at tables which are cleaned. He has sterile injecting kits, swabs and Naloxone, as well as a defibrillator.
Peter said that before people use the service, he asks what they are injecting and what other drugs they are taking so he can respond if an overdose occurs.
The dozens who have used the site confirm what he already knows and what drug death statistics tell us – poly drug use is rife in Glasgow.
Most people are injecting powder cocaine, and some heroin – and almost all are using another drug. More than half were using street benzodiazepines and most are on some dose of prescribed methadone.
Peter said: “That’s been 47 injections where there is no danger of a blood-borne virus and less danger of wound infection. We give harm reduction advice and direct people to other services in the area. He said the doses of methadone are mostly not enough, so many are using illegal drugs.
Only one was receiving a prescription for benzodiazepines so was using illegal street valium as well and injecting cocaine. He said the recent increase in cocaine use was a problem as he said there is no prescription substitute, as is the case with methadone for heroin.
Once set up, Peter takes a walk around where he knows drug users will be and lets them know the van is there.
He said: “In the alleyways they’re rushed. And it’s dirty. They’re more likely to miss a vein and there’s a higher risk of infection. In the van they are more secure and safer. They can take their time to find the injection site, reducing the risk of wound injection.”null
He said people stay and tell of their experiences. A range of ages have come to use the van and not all are the ageing cohort from the so-called “Trainspotting generation”.
Peter said there are many in their 40s and 50s. One man was in his 60s but he has seen several in their 20s.
There has been recently released prisoners. One man was only out of Low Moss prison four days earlier – another was five days out of Barlinnie.
Peter said: “I was aware they were at a higher risk of overdose because they could have been detoxing in prison.”
“There needs to be a permanent, official facility.”Peter Krykant
He said there needs to be a permanent, official facility. Peter said: “The government tells us they are following the evidence with the coronavirus pandemic to save lives.
“Well they are not doing it for drug deaths. Drug Consumption Rooms reduce fatal overdoses and saves money for the NHS and councils in other services like clean-up of needles in outdoor injection sites.”