Drug consumption rooms and public health policy: perspectives of Scottish strategic decision-makers

James Nicholls*, Wulf Livingston, Andy Perkins, Beth Cairns, Rebecca Foster, Kirsten M. A. Trayner, Harry R. Sumnall, Tracey Price, Paul Cairney, Josh Dumbrell, Tessa Parkes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


There is widespread support for the introduction of Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) in Scotland as part of a policy response to record levels of drug-related harm. However, existing legal barriers are made more complex by the division of relevant powers between the UK and Scottish Governments. This paper reports on a national, qualitative study of key decision-makers in both local and national roles across Scotland. It explores views on the political barriers and enablers to the adoption of Drug Consumption Rooms and the potential role of these facilities in the wider treatment system. It also considers approaches to evidence, especially the types of evidence that are considered valuable in supporting decision-making in this area. The study found that Scottish decision-makers are strongly supportive of DCR adoption; however, they remain unclear as to the legal and political mechanisms that would make this possible. They view DCRs as part of a complex treatment and support system rather than a uniquely transformative intervention. They see the case for introduction as sufficient, on the basis of need and available evidence, thus adopting a pragmatic and iterative approach to evidence, in contrast to an appeal to traditional evidence hierarchies more commonly adopted by the UK Government.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6575
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Early online date27 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • drug consumption rooms
  • safer injecting facilities
  • overdose prevention centres
  • drugs
  • policy
  • harm reduction
  • interventions
  • problem drug use
  • public health
  • Scotland
  • Decision Making
  • Public Health
  • Humans
  • Harm Reduction
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Health Policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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