Calls have been made to look into creating a safe drug injecting facility in Dundee to tackle overdoses, HIV and the problem of discarded needles in the city.
The Glasgow City Alcohol and Drug Partnership is currently in the process of setting up a working group to explore the possibility of piloting a facility and this has led to calls for a similar scheme to be set up in Dundee.
Supporters of safe zones say having staff on hand to observe users could help cut the amount of overdoses and stop the spread of HIV.
Opinion: Drug addicts are people too
The difficult problem of drug abuse and its effects on communities can often be a contentious issue, with everyone harbouring an opinion on the matter.
The calls being made to launch a safe drug injecting facility in Dundee may divide some readers.
We have already heard from some who say such a facility would help reduce the risk of overdoses and help stop the spread of HIV.
But there are others who might wonder why money should be spent to give people a place to take drugs.
Whatever approach you believe is best suited to tackling Dundee’s drug problem, it is important to remember that those caught up in addiction are human beings too.
They are someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister or parent.
With this in mind, we need to reach out to those in need and offer help wherever we can. More so if this helps take drugs off the streets where paraphernalia can be found by our children.
Simply ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
Health convener Ken Lynn said he is “open” to the idea.
He said: “Safe injecting zones could be a good idea for not only the prevention of blood-borne viruses spreading but for making sure people who are users are doing it as safely as possible. If someone was to overdose, there would be someone in there to make sure they get medical help so I think it’s an interesting idea and something I would be open to.
“Given the drug problem we have in Scotland — particularly Dundee and Glasgow — it’s an idea we should be welcoming and looking into.”
Earlier this year, two men were pictured passed out on a bench just yards away from a Dundee playpark — having both apparently injected drugs.
The person who took the picture, Jennifer Mcartney, 24, from Fintry, said a safe injecting facility could avoid similar scenes in the future.
She said: “It’s a good idea. We’ve had all the Oor Wullies out in the city recently and I’ve read about needles being found there every day.
“Something needs to be done quick to stop this kind of thing happening.”
Andrew Horne, director of drug addiction charity Addaction Scotland, said: “We believe these facilities should be rolled out across the country, particularly to Dundee, which has the highest incidence of drug-related deaths per capita in the country.
“Injecting rooms are staffed by nurses and other health and social care professionals.
“Not only do these create safe places to inject, but they can also signpost people to other services like Addaction.
“Another advantage is the decrease in used syringes on the streets.
“Supervised injecting facilities have already been established in Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Canada. All of these places report a decrease in drug-related deaths.”