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As Brighton considers ‘safe house’ for drug users we ask ourselves are we doing all we can to reduce drug-related deaths?

Part of our overarching role is to consider new ideas to reduce the harm caused by drug (and alcohol) consumption. Warwickshire has a comprehensive plan to tackle substance misuse but there will always be more that could be done.

Since 1986 drug consumption rooms or ‘safe-house’s’ have been operating in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Norway, Canada and Australia.

Drug consumption rooms are professionally supervised facilities where drug users can use drugs in a safer and more hygienic environment.

Heroin

The aim of a consumption room is to:

• Provide an environment for more hygienic drug use
• Promote access to treatment services
• Contact difficult-to-reach populations of drug users
• Reduce drug use in public places
• Improve public amenity near drug use ’hot-spots’
• Reduce morbidity and mortality risks associated with drug use

There are, however, concerns that consumption rooms may delay entry into treatment and even encourage drug use.

Evidence suggests that drug rooms can have positive impacts in terms of increasing drug users’ access to health and social care, and reducing public drug use and associated nuisance. It could also be a cost saver. For instance the prevention of just one blood borne infection could save many thousands of pounds.

An independent report commissioned by Brighton and Hove City Council suggests that they could be the first British city to introduce drug consumption rooms. Will others follow their lead?

We shall keep a close eye on developments but it is unlikely that this is going to be something for Warwickshire.  One of the main problems being that even the most ardent supporters of these facilities may not want one near their own home!

In the meantime we will continue to  consider – what is best for the drug user? what is best for society?

BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat visited a consumption room in Frankfurt – to have a look around please click here.

For more information please visit: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

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