Community, compassion, harm reduction, rehabilitation
Medically Supervised Injecting Centres, also known as "supervised injecting facilities (SIF's)", "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 MSIC is not considered to be "safe" (due to the risks involved with injecting unregulated substances), MSICs 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 in European countries including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg and Denmark. Canada has two facilities and Australia has one.
What's the current situation in Australia?
The Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre opened in Kings Cross, Sydney, in 2001, on a trial basis.
In 2010, after a number of evaluations, the New South Wales (NSW) government introduced legislation to lift the trial status of the Sydney MSIC to allow it to become a permanent health service.
In February 2017, Coroner Jacqui Hawkins , recommended the Victorian government trial a supervised injecting room in north Richmond. Earlier in February 2017, the Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation coordinated an open letter to the Victorian Parliament, published in the Herald Sun Thursday 9 February, which contains 48 signatories from key sectors of the Victorian community who all support a trial of a Medically Supervised Injection Facility in North Richmond. Signatories include the Salvation Army, Anglicare, Ambulance Employees Australia, Australian Medical Association, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, other medical experts, Victorian Trades Hall Council, Yarra City Council, nurses, youth and health services, and leading drug agencies.
In October 2012, the Australian Medical Association Victoria released a Policy Paper supporting the trial of supervised injecting facilities in Victoria.
In March 2017, Yarra Council has voted unanimously to advocate to the State Government to implement the Victorian Coroner’s recommendation for a trial of a medically supervised injecting facility (MSIF).
Are MSICs effective?
Evidence from both Australia and overseas (listed below) indicates that MSICs 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
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 the evaluation reports from Sydney MSIC.
Busting some common misconceptions!
In Sydney the Kings Cross Centre:
Is a discreet clinic-like building in the middle of the main drug area; many new residents and visitors to the area don't know where or what it is;
Didn’t have “a honeypot effect” - Kings Cross did not experience an increase drug use or crime in the area;
Is not open 24/7 – The Sydney MSIC is open during extended business hours each day;
Is legal - Legislation permits users to inject their own drugs in a safer space. Dealing is prohibited; and
Is funded by the confiscated proceeds of crime, and has had no impact on the NSW Health budget.
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