The vast majority of drug users in Scotland would be willing to use safe consumption rooms, according to new research.
The study, led by Glasgow Caledonian University, found those most at risk of drug-related harm would be particularly keen to use such facilities.
Researchers interviewed 1469 people who inject drugs for the study, which was completed in light of proposals by officials in Glasgow to introduce the UK’s first drug consumption room (DCR).
The Home Office said it does not support DCRs, which are facilities where people who inject drugs can do so in a safe environment under supervision.
A UK Government spokesman said: “Illegal drugs devastate lives and communities, and we have no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms in the UK.”
The study found 75% of people who inject drugs in Scotland were willing to use DCRs but the proportion was higher among those interviewed in city centres, including Glasgow at 83%.
Willingness was greater among people who reported using heroin (76%) and cocaine (79%), and those with experience of homelessness (86%), public injecting (87%) and recent overdose (80%).
Kirsten Trayner, lead researcher in the study, said: “Willingness to use a drug consumption room was extremely high across all regions in Scotland and among key risk groups, including those who reported homelessness, cocaine injecting and public injecting.
“The vast majority of people said they would use a drug consumption room if it was introduced in their area.
“It shows that this intervention will attract those most at risk of different drug-related harms, particularly HIV and overdose in Scotland.
“They have the potential to make a big impact in areas where they are introduced.”
Ms Trayner was part of a team of 11 field workers who collected data across Scotland.
They used a detailed questionnaire that examined a range of demographics and behaviours such as homelessness, the type of drugs injected, drug treatment and incarceration history – all questions which were related to an individual’s injecting risk.
She said: “This is the first research of its kind in Scotland and particularly important given the recent proposals to establish a drug consumption room in Glasgow city centre.
“We have also been able to demonstrate that people injecting drugs in city centres, both in Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland, would be willing to use a drug consumption room.
“This is important as they are normally established in city centres close to drug markets and where injecting in public places occurs.”
She added: “The case for drug consumption rooms on the impact they can have on drug-related harms alone is compelling.
“However, other research has shown that the voices of people who use drugs has been missing from the debate until now.
“We hope that this research contributes to the ongoing debate for the need for drug consumption rooms in Scotland, particularly in Glasgow.”
The study is published in The International Journal of Drug Policy.
Ms Trayner completed the research as part of her PhD and worked with other members of the university’s blood-borne viruses research group – including the publication’s senior author Dr Andrew McAuley – to produce the study in collaboration with Health Protection Scotland, West of Scotland Specialist Virology Centre in Glasgow, the University of Glasgow, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services and Liverpool John Moores University.
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