Drug consumption rooms should be piloted in the UK

By Lunar Loops · May 23, 2006 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    Here we have a real voice of reason on this momentous (ahemm...) 'tackling drugs day (UK)'. Well reasoned article from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website:
    Drug consumption rooms should be piloted in the UK, concludes an independent group of experts

    Drug consumption rooms offer a "unique and promising way" to help lessen fatal overdoses as well as take drug use off the streets and reduce numbers of discarded needles in public places. These are the findings of an Independent Working Group set up and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
    Drug consumption rooms are places where dependent drug users are allowed to inject drugs in supervised, hygienic conditions. There are approximately 65 drug consumption rooms in operation in eight countries around the world but there are none in the UK.
    Over the past decade, the UK has consistently had the highest number of drug-related deaths in Europe. According to the report's findings, large quantities of syringes and drug-related litter are dropped in public places across the UK, causing considerable impact on local residents and businesses.
    Chaired by Dame Ruth Runciman, the Independent Working Group included UK experts from the police, legal and health sectors. For 20 months, the group reviewed the growing body of evidence, commissioned research where data was lacking, visited drug consumption rooms in five countries and interviewed relevant witnesses.
    Ruth Runciman said:
    "Setting up and evaluating drug consumption rooms would be a rational and overdue extension to UK harm reduction policies. This approach would offer a unique and promising way to work with the most problematic users, in order to reduce the risk of overdose, improve the health of users and lessen the damage and costs to society. While
    millions of drug injections have taken place in drug consumption rooms abroad, no one has died yet from an overdose. In short, lives could be saved."
    Highlighting associated health problems such as blood-borne viruses, abscesses and cellulitis, Ruth Runciman stressed how often these result in hospitalisation which could be avoided. She also spoke of the UK's substantial population of homeless drug users who often inject in public places causing distress to their local communities.
    The working group also considered the legal issues. Ruth Runciman said: "From our close scrutiny of national and international legal frameworks we do not see any insuperable legal obstacles to the piloting of drug consumption rooms in the UK."
    The group found that drug consumption rooms:
    • can avert drug-related deaths, prevent needle-sharing and improve the general health of users;
    • can decrease injecting in public places and reduce the number of discarded, used syringes and drug-related litter;
    • do not appear to increase levels of acquisitive crime;
    • were generally not associated with public order nuisance or other problems, especially with good interagency co-operation in place;
    • are mostly used by local drug users.
    Ruth Runciman added: "We conclude that well-designed and well-implemented drug consumption rooms would have an impact on some of the serious drug-related problems experienced in the UK."

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  1. robin_himself
    I think there is a topic about this issue on the forum, where the plan was to open a drug center. This is really a good idea, if one could get the quality of these centers up to the point that it is nicer to do drugs there rather than somewhere else it solves a real big problem of people taking drugs without caution and understanding.
  2. adzket
    this would be great swim was once an addict him self and although tryed to keep useag to being at home there where times this was not possible so parking the car somewhere quiet was next best thing. swim did dump pins in bins though never on to the street. swim also thinks more should be done in the way of perscribing injectible diamorphen to persistant addicts who cant kik habbit as all doctors can curenly perscribe this but only about 4 or 5 in country can do this for drug dependants. this would cut crime hugly in swims op. but what about police and possesion of a drug at said cliniks. what would happen then as police would no why person was going to that place ect...
  3. The Doors
    "Setting up and evaluating drug consumption rooms would be a rational and overdue extension to UK harm reduction policies. This approach would offer a unique and promising way to work with the most problematic users, in order to reduce the risk of overdose, improve the health of users and lessen the damage and costs to society. While
    millions of drug injections have taken place in drug consumption rooms abroad, no one has died yet from an overdose. In short, lives could be saved."

    No, really? I can't believe a country such as the UK didn't even have that kind of "service" offered to addicts. It's about time that they realize that it would make for a safer environment, not just for the addicts but the general public too.
  4. Lunar Loops
    Tories back injection centres for drug addicts

    Now here's a turn up. This from Telegraph.co.uk:

    Tories back injection centres for drug addicts
    By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent
    (Filed: 24/05/2006)

    The Tories tentatively supported calls yesterday for the Government to set up special centres where heroin addicts could legally inject themselves.
    In a surprise move, Edward Garnier, the shadow home affairs minister, said: "We do not rule out [these] recommendations. If this is to take place in a controlled environment and is to be used as a stepping stone to actually getting people off drugs, we will look at this carefully."
    His reaction surprised groups such as Civitas, the Right-of-centre think-tank, and the Tories' political opponents because of the anticipated public reaction to it and because the issue of drugs has stalked David Cameron, the Conservative leader, since the party's leadership race.
    on error resume nextflash2Installed = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.2")))flash3Installed = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.3")))flash4Installed = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.4")))flash5Installed = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.5")))flash6Installed = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.6")))flash7Installed = (IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.7")))Last October Mr Cameron urged media restraint over a newspaper article disclosing that a relative had received treatment for heroin addiction, and he came under intense pressure himself to say if he had ever taken drugs.
    He refused to answer the question, saying politicians were "only human" and everyone was allowed to "err and stray" in the past. Later, he confirmed that he had not taken class A drugs "as an MP".
    The Tories promised to make fighting drugs the top priority in their tough line against crime. David Davis, the shadow home secretary, told the Tory conference: "Some people say we have lost the war on drugs, I say we have not begun to fight it."
    The Home Office stuck to safer ground yesterday, arguing that "drug consumption rooms" could increase localised drug dealing and crime.
    There are about 65 so-called "shooting galleries" in Australia, Canada and across Europe. In 2002 Mr Cameron was a member of a Parliamentary committee that said the Government should set up a trial of drug rooms but the plan was rejected over concerns about their legality, public opinion and crime.
    Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister, said the Government's position was unchanged. "The reasons for rejecting it in 2002 are as valid today - the risk of an increase in localised dealing, anti-social behaviour and acquisitive crime," he said.
    But the DrugScope charity, which campaigns to shape drugs policy, welcomed the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report and said it hoped for a rational debate. "A policy which can save lives deserves serious consideration, however controversial it may seem at first," said Martin Barnes, the charity's chief executive.
    The proposal for "drug consumption rooms" was made by an independent group which said that allowing users to inject in a safe and hygienic environment would improve their health and reduce the risk of fatal overdoses.
    The 11-strong panel behind the report was chaired by Dame Ruth Runciman. Members included Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, Det Supt Kevin Green, of the Metropolitan police, and health workers.
    Lady Runciman said: "While millions of drug injections have taken place in drug consumption rooms abroad, no one has died yet from an overdose. In short, lives could be saved."
    Her report says that in a typical drug consumption room, if a person has problems injecting a drug, a trained member of staff can give advice.
    It is detail such as this - and the idea that it would make a fundamentally illegal activity, legal - which makes the proposal so controversial, and raises issues of legal and ethical principle.
  5. Lunar Loops
    Lib Dems: Drug consumption rooms not the answer

    Actually, if you read the article they are being nowhere near as negative as the headline might suggest. This from politics.co.uk:

    Lib Dems: Drug consumption rooms not the answer

    Tuesday, 23 May 2006 17:01
    The Liberal Democrats have said drug consumption rooms (DRCs) are "not an answer in themselves" to Britain's drug problems, after a report published today recommended DRCs, or "shooting galleries", be set up.

    The report argues such facilities would provide users with a supportive place in which to inject drugs, taking the problem off the streets.

    Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said he welcomed the report, but added: "Shooting galleries are not an answer in themselves.

    "There should be an expansion in the number of doctors who are allowed to prescribe maintenance doses of heroin to users, which would lead to a decline in illegal supply,” he said.

    Research shows the average age of a heroin user has risen in countries trying the scheme, whereas in Britain it is falling, he said. He argued this was because it lessened the role of the drug dealer, who sought out young people to become new addicts.
  6. Lunar Loops
    Home Office: Drug consumption rooms will harm communities

    This on the other hand is exactly as bad as it sounds. Good old Labour. Blair is a true bush-baby. This also from politics.co.uk:

    Home Office: Drug consumption rooms will harm communities

    Tuesday, 23 May 2006 11:44
    The Home Office has said it will not establish drug consumption rooms (DRCs), despite recommendations to do so in a report published today.

    A panel including two senior police officers today argues DRCs would provide conditions for drug users to inject in hygienic and supervised conditions, but Home Office spokeswoman said they were “not our policy”.

    She pointed out the issue was raised in 2002, when the government rejected the proposals on the basis that DRCs would carry "significant risk of harm to local communities in terms of an increase in localised dealing, anti-social behaviour and acquisitive crime".

    "The government's message on drugs is clear: we will not tolerate those who deal in drugs in our communities. We are of course aware of this report but believe the reasons for rejecting it in 2002 are as valid today," she said.

    She argued the current strategy of offering users treatment and support is "making real inroads into tackling drug misuse".
  7. Lunar Loops
    More views on the subject of 'drug rooms'

    All from politics.co.uk:

    DrugScope: Injection rooms deserves serious consideration

    Tuesday, 23 May 2006 09:34
    Drugs’ charity DrugScope has welcomed today's report calling for drug consumption rooms (DCRs) to be set up in Britain.

    Chief executive Martin Barnes said the policy deserves "serious consideration", however "controversial" it may seem.

    He said international evidence in favour of piloting DCRs was "strong" and "persuasive", arguing they could save lives, improve health and raise communities' quality of life.

    "2006 marks the 20th anniversary of the introduction of needle exchange schemes in the UK which did so much to ensure that we have among the lowest drug-related HIV rates in Europe,” Mr Barnes said.

    “However, we need to do more: drug-related hepatitis C infection rates are unacceptably high, HIV infection rates are increasing and many drug related deaths are preventable."

    He added: "This carefully considered report will test the extent to which we are able to have an informed, rational and calm debate about drugs policy and reducing drug-related harms."

    Drugs foundation: Government’s drug policy is irresponsible

    Tuesday, 23 May 2006 12:44
    The Transform Drugs Policy Foundation (TDPF) has called the government's drug policy "irresponsible", after the Home Office today rejected a report recommending setting up drug consumption rooms (DCRs), to provide a space for users to inject in hygienic and supervised conditions

    Spokesman Steve Rolles told politics.co.uk the report was backed up by a “mountain of evidence” and reflected the findings of five other major committees, including a home affairs select committee, that DCRs would benefit the community and users.

    Ministers argue the rooms would increase local crime, but he insisted they were designed to do the opposite, by taking dealers and syringes off the streets.

    Mr Rolles blamed the government's resistance on their "political fear" of being seen to be soft on drugs, saying: "People are dying as a result of the government's intransigence on this issue."

    He added: "This is not an ideological stance; we are supporting it because it works.”

    Treatment Agency: New drugs treatments must be cost effective

    Tuesday, 23 May 2006 13:27
    The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) has argued that any new drugs policy should be "evidence based and cost effective", after a report released today recommended the setting up of drugs consumption rooms (DRCs).

    The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report argued DRCs would provide a space for drug users to inject in hygienic and supportive conditions.

    But an NTA spokesman said that although he did support the use of supervised consumption facilities for legally prescribed medications, such as the current pilots on medical heroin prescription for drug addiction, the legal status of DRCs for illegal drugs was not clear.

    "Any new treatment provision must be evidence based and cost effective. Further evidence is needed that there would be enough demand for drug consumption rooms to justify the use of scarce resources, when funding could be better spent on other treatment services," he added.
  8. adzket
    any one no how the normall person can get there veiws put across to the govenment as most of the people who make policy desisions have no idea about alot of the reality people face, thinking we all have it good most of the time ect when alot dont its no wonder drugs are riff in poor areas and crime is so high when gray haired old men in the commons who all look asleep any way when there ment to be at work do all the desision making. we are ment to live in a democratic sociaty after all i think normall people should be able to vote on policy to or they should at least get the views of normal people befor they vote. mps are shit at there job.
  9. klaatu
    As I waited at the airport to fly out of the country I heard about this on BBC Radio 4. My initial thought was "What a very sensible suggestion". Hard on the heels was the thought "Damn! I won't be able to post these news items on the Forum!".

    And lo! It came to pass that Klaatu returned to the UK to find Shroomonger had taken all the glory :)

    Still - safe injecting rooms are a Good Thing. Damn glad there is some sensible debate on the subject.

  10. Lunar Loops
    Verily my cup doth overflow...no, shit it has and that bloody red wine doesn't half stain the carpet. I'm basking like a shark here Klaatu....errr ok, actually I'm just talkin a load of old guff now....I'll get my coat...

    You are correct though, it is VERY good to see some real, not to mention constructive, debate on this matter.

    Hope you enjoyed the trip (damn these puns), by the way.
  11. Lunar Loops
    Just to add futher to the debate this is taken from the drugscope site (http://drugscope.blogspot.com) today:
    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Friday Focus: Drug Consumption Rooms


    The publication this week of The Report of the Independent Working Group on Drug Consumption Rooms has reignited debate around this area of drug policy. Hailed by some as an essential life-saving intervention, dismissed by others as little better than ‘drug dens’ or ‘shooting galleries’, do drug consumption rooms (DCRs) represent a serious policy option for the UK?

    DCRs are legally-sanctioned environments in which individuals can take pre-obtained drugs, usually by injecting, in a hygienic manner and under supervision. Initiated in Switzerland in 1986, there are currently around 65 DCRs in operation around the world, including Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Australia and Canada.

    A high proportion of DCR users are homeless or in unstable accommodation. The typical client is over 30 and with a history of problem drug use (mainly heroin and cocaine) going back ten years or more. Between 70% and 90% are men, except in facilities targeting sex workers.

    DCR models vary, but they generally share some key features:
    · people under 18 are not admitted;
    · medical supervision is present in (or next to) the injecting room;
    · staff can advise but not assist injecting;
    · those deemed first time / non-dependent injectors are not admitted;
    · dealing and sharing is not allowed on the premises; and
    · drunk and intoxicated people are not allowed in.

    The evidence base for the effects of DCRs is growing, and suggests their introduction could have a significant impact on drug-related harms, both to individuals and communities, in the UK. Identified benefits include:

    · real potential to reduce the number of drug-related deaths, as well as nuisance to the public, by getting injectors off the streets;
    · fewer drug users injecting in public and needles discarded;
    · reduced overdose risks for injecting drug users by removing the haste, isolation and lack of hygiene that are the main features of these drug deaths. They also reduce health harm and infection from blood-borne viruses; and
    · clients brought into contact with other services so that DCRs provide an intervention point for treatment and harm reduction information.
    · There is no evidence that the existence of DCRs leads to more people taking drugs.So far however, the UK Government has resisted calls for the piloting of Drug Consumption Rooms.

    Petra Maxwell
    Media & Communications Manager
  12. Lunar Loops
    Italian minister proposes legalizing heavy drugs

    Hmmm, can it be true? Is there a collective wave of sensible thought sweeping the globe? If only we could all annexe ourselves off from the overbearing influence of the self-appointed, right wing fascist world police force..sing with me....No Bush, no cry, No Bush, such joy.....well, we can but dream....anyway, slightly off topic here, this from jurnalo.com (http://www.jurnalo.com/index.php?id=34&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=177&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=26&cHash=208b95a79c) :

    Italian minister proposes legalizing heavy drugs

    Wednesday 14 June 2006 13:16
    During an interview with "Radio Radicale", Italian welfare Minister Paolo Ferrero proposed yesterday the institution of a “shooting room”, where people addicted to heavy drugs will have the possibility of controlled drug self-administration.

    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif][/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]This suggestion has been followed by the declaration of former health minister prof. Umberto Veronesi, who strongly criticizes drug prohibition. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]The view of both politicians is supported by a Swiss study of ZHW started in 1991, which proves that controlled self administration of heroin produces fewer new consumers; other European countries such as Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Holland have already introduced the "shooting rooms". [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]According to Veronesi and Ferrero, the complete drugs prohibition lead by the former government (through “Bossi-Giovanardi” law) had no effects, and was both the root of the international drugs trade and the Mafia's main source of income.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Italian PM Mr. Prodi this morning refused the proposal, defined as “Ferrero's own idea, which doesn't reflect the government's position”, and many members of the opposition, such as the former Minister for the relations with the Parliament Mr.Giovanardi, have defined the suggestion as “an experiment on the drug addict's skin”.[/FONT]
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