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Briefing paper: Drug Consumption Rooms

The defining characteristic of Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) is that they are legally sanctioned environments where people can take illegal drugs. Their purpose is to reduce drug-related harms. The underlying assumption is that if problem drug users are provided with safe private environments within which to administer drugs there will be a reduction in unsafe public drug use. Drug Consumption Rooms have developed in their modern form since the mid-1980s. For most of this period they have operated in a handful of countries in Western Europe, but in the last few years new facilities have opened in Australia and Canada, and some more rigorous evaluations of their impact have been produced. While the benefits of DCRs should not be exaggerated – and they raise issues of ethical and legal principle that cannot be resolved easily – evidence is emerging that these facilities can make a positive contribution to reducing drug-related harms where they have the support of local services and communities.