For the past year, adults in Denmark with a serious drug addiction have been allowed to take illegal drugs in “fix rooms,” supervised by a nurse. Research suggests these drug consumption rooms can save lives, NPR reports.
These facilities, also known as supervised injection sites, are also found in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Vancouver, Canada. Seattle, San Francisco and New Mexico are considering opening supervised injection sites, the article notes.
The two drug consumption rooms in Copenhagen, Denmark have hosted 1,800 unique visitors so far. They include people who smoke and inject cocaine and heroin. Visitors register anonymously. Nurses witness up to 800 injections a day. In the first year, 135 people overdosed, but none died. Two years ago, 285 people in Denmark died from drug-related causes. The facilities also are connecting people with the welfare system, to get assistance with housing and medical care.
“We are getting to know them; we are building up relations with them,” said Rasmus Christansen, manager at one of the Copenhagen facilities. “And when we are building up relations, they will also come to us when they have problems.”
Deputy Police Inspector Kaj Lykke Majlund is a supporter of the program. “We used to think police could solve all these problems alone. But that doesn’t work,” he says. “We have to understand that drug users — the severely addicted — they need help. They need treatment, not punishment.”