Impact of safe consumption facilities on individual and community outcomes

"Our review found at the individual-level that SCFs were efficacious in reducing drug use related infection and disease transmission, enhancing access to addiction and other health services, and reducing the risk of non-fatal overdoses, and were not associated with a significant increase in drug use. These findings challenge the notion that SCFs may perpetuate substance use and lead to increased use among PWID. With regard to non-fatal overdose, the evidence over the past ten years have been largely been qualitative and would benefit from the use of quantitative methods that help to approximate causality. For example, the use of a propensity score modeling may help to determine the effectiveness of SCFs for individual-level outcomes based on observational or cross-sectional data (Hullsiek and Louis, 2002). Future studies may also want to consider the use of comparison groups or cities to examine the different factors influencing the effectiveness of SCFs. Additionally, we found emerging evidence that SCFs provide PWID with a sense of community that may support their overall wellbeing, thereby increasing their chances of accessing addiction treatment services. However, this evidence came qualitative studies (Rance and Fraser, 2011; Jozaghi and Andresen, 2013; Davidson et al., 2018; Kerman et al., 2020), and provides a future direction for research examining the impact of SCFs. Future quantitative studies may want to include a validated measure of wellbeing and sense of belonging. In particular, longitudinal studies should examine the degree to which a sense of belonging and having a supportive community may play a role in injection cessation and help-seeking behaviors for SCF attenders. At the community level, the evidence shows that SCFs were not associated with an increased rate of drug-related crime, and were linked to a decrease use of other costly public services (e.g. ambulance transport to hospital following an overdose). However, this evidence is still growing and requires additional research that accounts for other cofounding relationships using a longitudinal, inferential research design. Furthermore, we found that SCFs were associated with a reduction in public disorder, including less public disposal of syringes and use in public spaces. Future research should consider the gathering information from multiple sources (e.g. community members, service providers, police services) to examine the impact of SCFs on the public. Finally, there appear to be significant cost-benefits associated with SCFs, yet all of these studies have focused on the benefits related to the reduction of infectious disease transmission and injection-related death. Future studies should consider additional benefits related to the families of SCF attenders and reduction in community costs associated with decrease in public disorder."


Sarah J. Dow-Fleisner, Arielle Lomness, Lucía Woolgar, Impact of safe consumption facilities on individual and community outcomes: A scoping review of the past decade of research, Emerging Trends in Drugs, Addictions, and Health, Volume 2, 2022, 100046, ISSN 2667-1182,