Drug consumption room will save lives, says former addict

A drug consumption room being set up in Glasgow will help save lives, one former addict has said.

The 52-year-old, from Paisley, used drugs for more than 30 years before going into residential rehabilitation and getting clean.

The man, who wanted to be named only as Ronnie, said he would have kicked his habit earlier in his life if support had been available.

He said: “Every penny I had went on drugs. When I stopped working I was living out of food banks, sleeping on a couch, only getting off the couch to go and score.

“If I didn’t seek help when I did, I would be dead now. There’s no doubt, I would be dead. Or I would be sitting with limbs amputated, (having) lost the ability to walk. Ultimately, I wouldn’t be here.”

He now works for charity With You in Glasgow as a recovery worker, and he believes the pilot drug consumption room in the city’s east end will help homeless people.

He said: “It will provide a warm, clean space for people who would otherwise be using – and dying – in the streets or in car parks. I think it will help a lot of people.

“However, the facility alone is not enough. I hope it will have more tiers to it – including testing for blood-borne viruses and offering support into recovery.

“People who use drugs in a harmful way often have very chaotic lives. Even if they want to make a change, they do not know how to find advice. The overdose prevention centre could be a really important tool for reaching people. For me, it’s a no brainer.”

Graeme Callander, policy lead at With You in Scotland, welcomed the approval given by council and health officials in Glasgow for the UK’s first official drugs consumption room.

He said: “Evidence shows that overdose prevention centres – sometimes known as drug consumption rooms – can reduce deaths, encourage safer injecting practices, prevent infections, and increase engagement with treatment and support services.

“Although some progress has been made in reducing drug-related deaths in Scotland, it simply isn’t enough. As a nation, we need to embrace innovative approaches and commit to making real change in order to save lives.”