Drug consumption rooms – special facilities that provide safe and hygienic environments for supervised drug use, protecting users from risk – are a useful element in increasing public health and safety and promoting safer drug use patterns, an expert symposium heard today.
Organised by the Council of Europe’s anti-drug Pompidou Group as part of its 50th anniversary programme and bringing together around 300 participants from 15 European countries, the symposium assessed existing support for drug consumption rooms with a view to developing similar risk-reduction mechanisms throughout Europe.
In his opening speech Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge stressed how the system put human rights at the core of drug policy. “These rooms put people first. But reaching and helping highly marginalized groups also depends upon experience and the myriad of complicating factors that exist on the ground,” he said.
Mr Berge also stressed that “The concept of human rights rests on the idea that every individual matters equally, that those rights are inalienable, and that there exists an obligation to uphold them. It seems to me that supervised drug-consumption rooms are designed to put that theory into practice”.
The Symposium gathered experts, European authorities, ministers from France and Ireland, national drug coordinators, mayors of dozens of cities which presented positive results of the DCRs they host (Brussels, Copenhagen, Strasbourg, Paris, Lille, Marseille, Liege, Lyon, Nantes, Montpellier…) and representatives from the community and civil society organisations from around Europe.
Speaking as the Project Manager at Positive Voice at the Workshop on opportunities and challenges of opening a DCR from the community and professionals’ perspective, the DPNSEE Board member Marios Atzemis said that “Every overdose death is a policy failure. Every overdose death is preventable. ” He also shared that “There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel in #Greece through the collaboration between the community of people who use drugs and Greek Government”.
At the closing of the Symposium, the participants discuss creating a European support network for Drug Consumption Rooms that would extend good practices and sustain the achieved results.