Glasgow Safe Injection Site Would Be the UK's First

By Kelly Burch 11/02/16

The "fix room" may also provide some users with medical-grade heroin.

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Glasgow Safe Injection Site Would Be the UK's First
Vancouver's Insite safe injection facility Photo: YouTube

Heroin addicts in one of Scotland’s largest cities will be able to inject heroin in a medical facility where some will also be provided with drugs—following Glasgow’s approval of the first so-called “shooting gallery” in the United Kingdom.

Glasgow’s police, health board and city council all approved the plan, but requested more details about where the clinic would be and how it would operate, according to the BBC. While the details have not yet been ironed out, it appears that some users would inject their own drugs, while others would be provided with medical-grade heroin at the clinic. 

"We believe [the approval] will improve the health of the target population as well as benefit local communities and businesses that are currently adversely affected by public injecting,” said Susanne Millar, chairwoman of the Glasgow City Alcohol and Drug Partnership, a task force set up to help the Scottish government deal with drug and alcohol issues. 

The main goal of the space is to keep drug users from injecting in the street, and thus lower the number of needles found discarded around the city. 

"People injecting drugs in public spaces are experiencing high levels of harm and are impacting on the wider community,” Millar said. “We need to make our communities safer for all people living in, and visiting the city, including those who publicly inject.”

Ten other countries have similar spaces, including Australia, Germany and France, which opened its first drug injection room in a Paris hospital in mid-October.

"This is a very important moment in the battle against the blight of addiction," Marisol Touraine, Paris Health Minister, told the BBC at the time. 

Here in the United States, a Seattle task force has called for opening two safe injection spaces, citing many of the same reasons as Glasgow, including a 19% increase in homelessness in just one year. The Seattle clinic would not provide any drugs. 

“This particular feature, what we're calling safe consumption sites or community health engagement locations, where users can come and use their heroin or their opioid drug under supervision of a medical professional—in a nutshell, the idea is not really to give people a place to inject drugs and then go about their lives but really a way that they can inject safely off the street, out of doorways, out of alleyways," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for King County in Washington state, which includes Seattle. "Hygienic conditions to minimize their risk of infection, such as HIV, to minimize their risk of overdose and to minimize the stigmatization and social rejection that keeps a lot of these people out of the health care system in the first place."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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