Please contact Laura Thomas of the Drug Policy Alliance with questions (email@example.com). Thank you!
SAFER DRUG CONSUMPTION SERVICES: LETTER OF SUPPORT
Safer drug consumption services (SCS) are health care settings where people can more safely use pre-obtained drugs in a hygienic environment with access to sterile drug use equipment and under the supervision of trained healthcare staff. SCS provide healthcare, counseling, and linkage to other services, including drug treatment. They promote dignity and connection for people too often denied both.
There are more than 100 SCS programs operating in ten countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland) – but none in the United States. More SCS are planned to soon open in Ireland and in many Canadian cities. In the United States, the Seattle and King County, Washington governments have stated an intention to authorize SCS; state-level legislation has been introduced in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont; and the city legislatures of San Francisco and New York City have taken steps to explore the viability of local SCS authorization.
Scores of high-quality, peer-reviewed scientific studies have consistently proven the positive effects of SCS on public health and safety. Public health research has shown that SCS:
• Reduce overdose deaths by providing immediate first aid. No one has ever died while using drugs in an SCS.• Increase access to drug treatment, especially among people who distrust the treatment system and are unlikely to seek treatment on their own. • Increase public order and safety by reducing drug use in public spaces such as parks and public restrooms, and reducing improperly discarded drug use equipment.• Reduce HIV and viral hepatitis transmission by eliminating the sharing of drug use equipment by people who use at an SCS. • Reduce skin and soft tissue infections, a common, debilitating, and expensive-to-treat consequence of injection drug use in unsanitary environments.• Save money by preventing disease and unnecessary hospitalization. A recent San Francisco cost-effectiveness study predicted that a single SCS would result in a net annual savings of $3.5 million for the city.
In addition, research has shown that SCS do NOT:
• Increase drug use in the surrounding community.• Increase initiation into injection drug use.• Increase drug-related crime.• Attract new drug users to an area.
California's longstanding commitment to harm reduction services has been a model for cities around the world, and has resulted in sharp reductions in HIV transmission and overdose deaths among people who inject drugs. But changing drug use issues, including the widespread introduction of fentanyl, and ongoing challenges with homelessness speak to the need for a holistic, evidence-based approach to reducing the harms of drug use.
SCS will save lives in California. Without them a vital tool is left unused, resulting in more disease and death among our families and loved ones. For the health and safety of our state, we call on California to act now.