UISCE supports harm reduction in all its forms among the community of people who use drugs. The community would like to see this facility in Ireland – and to ensure that the set-up meets the unique needs of the Irish community.
Supervised injecting facilities (SIFs), also known as “drug consumption rooms”, “injecting rooms” or “safe injecting facilities”, are places where people who use drugs can inject illicit drugs, supervised by nurses and social workers.
While injecting at a SIF is not considered to be “safe” (due to the risks involved with injecting unregulated substances), SIFs allow for vital education and emergency care, as well as offering pathways into rehabilitation, treatment and other health services for people who inject drugs.
Which countries have supervised injecting facilities?
The first supervised injecting facility was opened in Switzerland, in the 1980s. There are now approximately 90 SIFs worldwide—the majority of these are in European countries including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg and Denmark, the newest facility in Paris opened in November 2016. Canada has two facilities and Australia has one.
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The Irish government has pledged to press ahead with plans for supervised injection facilities. The Fine Gael-led minority administration will also support a health-led rather than criminal justice approach to drugs, in the new Programme for Government.
The Fine Gael-Labour cabinet last year approved amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Bill which allow for the establishment of supervised injection centres, this legislation is exected to be passed by January 2017.
Are SIFs effective?
Evidence from both Australia and overseas (listed below) indicates that SIFs are an effective way of reducing some of the harms associated with injecting drug use, including:
Numbers of overdoses (including fatal and non-fatal)
Public littering of injecting equipment
Reaching problematic injecting drug users and providing pathways and opportunities for treatment and support
Infection rates of transmissible diseases such as Hepatitis C
Harm to people who inject drugs, such skin abscesses and damaged veins Drug-related loitering, drug dealing or petty crime in areas in the area
Healthcare costs including ambulance call-outs and hospital admission
Australian evidence Evaluations of the Sydney MSIC have found that in 2011 it had:
Successfully managed more than 4,400 drug overdoses without a single fatality
Reduced the number of publicly discarded needles and syringes in the Kings Cross area by approximately half
Decreased the number of ambulance call outs to Kings Cross by 80%
Generated more than 9500 referrals to health and social welfare services
Read evaluation reports from Sydney MSIC. –
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