Many people when they hear terms such as ‘Safe Injecting Unit’ or ‘Drug Consumption Room’ applied to Overdose Prevention Facilities will immediately jump to conclusions about what this means.

The level of debate around this issue has meant that many myths and misconceptions can arise which are then repeated and begin to take hold.

Throughout our calls for an OPF in Northern Ireland, we have sought to be as clear as possible about separating out the fact from fiction in this debate.

Overdose Prevention Facilities - What they ARE

An OPF is one of the ways of supporting the safety of the most vulnerable street drug users who are caught in the life-threatening trap of intravenous drug use and to support them in reducing harm by drugs.

A trial OPF would be a sanctioned place which offers:

A controlled, monitored, and hygienic environment, operated by an approved provider, to ensure safe injecting, and prevent drug-related overdose by individuals who are homeless and highly dependent on intravenous drugs.

An earlier intervention for life threatening health issues for those most at risk of early death.
Regular contact with the most at risk of overdose death.
Support with treatments to begin to step down from injecting and begin the journey of harm reduction.
Monitoring to reduce the risk of blood-borne virus transmission.

Overdose Prevention Facilities - What they are NOT

A trial OPF is not a 'cosy place' to take drugs all day, every day. It is also not:

A place for drugs to be sold, supplied or distributed to users. Staff would never be engaged in providing or procuring illegal substances. These are spaces where those who have already obtained drugs are able to use them in a way which is hygienic, safe and away from public areas.
A place for injecting drug users to remain for lengthy periods of time to take drugs. Instead they are monitored closely and moved on when it is safe to do so.

A place where drugs have been 'legalised'. OPFs are simply there to meet an urgent, critical need to save lives and not to promote the supply or distribution of illegal drugs.