Review of Medically Supervised Drug Use Facilities Finds Mixed Results

IV drug use syringe injection

A review of medically supervised drug consumption facilities finds no clear answer about whether they lower a community’s rate of drug overdose deaths, The Washington Post reports.

In these facilities, people can use illegal drugs such as heroin under the supervision of trained staff, who can offer clean injection equipment and intervene if a person overdoses.

The review by the RAND Corporation found a medically supervised episode of drug use almost certainly is less likely to lead to death or infectious disease transmission compared with drug use elsewhere. However, the review did not find that people who use these facilities are less likely to die of an overdose over time, or that opening such a facility decreases a community’s rate of drug overdose deaths.

The reason for the seeming contradiction is that many people use these facilities intermittently, and do not adopt the safer practices from the supervised sites when they take drugs elsewhere, the researchers said. It is also not known whether people who inject drugs in a safe consumption facility end up using drugs longer than those who use medication-assisted treatment, such as methadone, in an attempt to stop using opioids.

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