Search for suitable ‘injecting room’ site in Dublin

The HSE has launched the search for a facility in Dublin where drug users can inject themselves in a safe environment, writes Stephen Rogers.

A tender has just been published on the Government’s etenders website seeking “suitably qualified and experienced service providers” to submit applications to provide a medically supervised injecting facility in Dublin city centre area.

It said the service will provide for adults who use drugs “who are on the premises of the supervised injecting facility with the permission of the licence holder, for the purposes of consuming drugs by injection only”.

The tender specifies the service is on a pilot basis. “The pilot phase will be envisaged for an 18 month period with an evaluation at six months and again at 18 months,” the tender says.

There will also be an option to extend the contract for a further 18 months up to maximum contract duration of award of three years.

The facility, it was indicated, will operate by means of a licence to be granted under “recent legislation” — a reference to the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Bill 2017, approved by the Government last February.

The legislation said the proposed facilities would provide a controlled environment for drug users to self-administer, by injection, drugs they have brought with them.

It also said the facilities would provide access to clean, sterile injecting equipment and have trained staff on hand to provide emergency care in the event of an overdose, as well as advice on treatment and rehabilitation.

The bill said the rooms would alleviate the problems associated with injecting on the street, including drug-related litter. It also exempts users from the offence of possession when in the facility and operators for allowing drugs on their premises.

While this pilot centre is being set up for Dublin city centre, there have been calls for such a facility in other areas, such as Cork City.

Earlier this year, the Drug Policy Summit, hosted by the Ana Liffey Drug Project, examined medically supervised injecting centres and decriminalisation.

Its report said people who inject drugs should be consulted regarding “service design and implementation” of the facility and said injecting facilities “should and could be much more than just monitoring injections”; provide an opportunity for “relief” from the dangers users face on the street; provide the room to have conversations with staff.

The report also said the evidence did not show that supervised injecting facilities had any sort of “honeypot effect” — attracting drug users to an area. There have been fears that ‘NIMBYism’ (not in my back yard) may be an issue for people living in an area chosen for a centre.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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