Supervised injection rooms are legally sanctioned facilities where people who use intravenous drugs can inject pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision. Supervised injection facilities are designed to reduce the health and societal problems associated with injection drug use.
Supervised injection facilities provide sterile injection equipment, information about reducing the harms of drugs, health care, treatment referrals, and access to medical staff. Some offer counseling, hygienic amenities, and other services.
They are also successful in reducing public disorder associated with illicit drug use, including improper syringe disposal and public drug use.
SIFs have been researched and evaluated for years. The evidence is conclusive that they reduce HIV and hepatitis transmission risks, prevent overdose deaths, reduce public injections, reduce discarded syringes, and increase the number of people who enter drug treatment.
There are now actually approximately 100 SIFs operating in at least 66 cities around the world in nine countries (Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Spain, Denmark, Australia and Canada). The first North American supervised injection site, Insite, opened in Vancouver, Canada in 2003.
No such facilities currently exist in the United States, but the Drug Policy Alliance is advocating for supervised injection pilot programs in San Francisco and New York City. We are working to expand the national dialogue on drug control to include policies and programs that mitigate the harms of drug use without mandating abstinence.
While gaining acceptance for a U.S. facility will be an uphill battle, we are committed to challenging the stigma surrounding injection drug use and introducing political leaders and the public to the health and societal benefits that supervised injection sites bring to local communities.