Safer Drug Consumption Rooms - A Duty of Care Towards Drug Users in Scotland

Are drug consumption rooms a safe solution to Scotland’s ongoing drug issues?

An initiative to provide a space for a drugs consumption facility has been given the go-ahead in Glasgow today, with varying opinions on the potential success of the endeavour. The first of its kind in the UK, the proposed aim of the facility is to provide a safe space for individuals struggling with drug addiction in the city.

The so-called “Safer Drug Consumption Facilities” can already be found throughout Europe and provide a safer environment for users to consume drugs. The facilities allow for hygienic drug consumption, with clean needles provided to reduce the risk of infection. Medical professionals are on-hand too, to help in the event of an overdose.

According to a report produced following a Glasgow City Integration Joint Board meeting, there is sufficient evidence that Safer Drug Consumption Facilities “can improve the health, wellbeing and recovery” of people using the facility, in turn relieving pressure from emergency services and reducing the impact of public drug use as a whole.

With 1,051 people dying as a result of drug misuse in 2022, Scotland has one of the highest numbers of drug-related deaths in Europe, and some welcome the decision to open the facility in Glasgow’s east end. However, plans for this initiative are not backed by the UK Government, leaving many wondering how much faith there is in this type of treatment.

Although there is no “safe way” to consume illegal drugs, it’s proposed that the facility will also provide support for those struggling with addiction to take the first steps involved in the journey to sobriety.

Because of this, there is a huge responsibility on those involved to provide adequate care and support for those addicted to illegal drugs. Susanne McGraw, Head of Personal Injury at Watermans, says

“The effects of drug addiction go beyond the user and extend to their families and wider society. The provision of a safer drug consumption facility in Glasgow is a small step, but one which is welcomed and will hopefully allow those suffering from addiction to access the help that they need.”

“The centre providers will have a duty of care towards the users of the centre to provide a safe environment for them. This includes a duty to ensure that any equipment and needles provided are clean and safe for use. This is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly and those who are supervising the facility will have to ensure that the systems put in place are robust and adhered to at all times.”

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