New Study Shows Unsanctioned U.S. Supervised Consumption Service Helps to Reduce Opioid Overdose Deaths

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A study of the first four years of an unsanctioned supervised consumption service (SCS) in the U.S. shows that these sites can improve safety for people who use drugs and potentially reduce opioid-related overdose deaths.

The results were first presented at an official press conference on Monday at the 26th Harm Reduction International Conference (HR19) in Portugal. The study found that over a four-and-a-half-year period the SCS was used 9,085 times by an estimated 540 individuals. Twenty-six overdoses occurred at the site during this study period and all were successfully revived by staff using naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.

“The preliminary results show the positive impact supervised consumption services have, not only for people who use drugs, but for the community as a whole, and highlight the potential of these sites as a tool to combat the overdose crisis,” said Barrot H. Lambdin, PhD, lead author of the paper and a senior epidemiologist and implementation scientist at  RTI International. “In the face of a rapidly increasing overdose rate, we found that the site was able to safely reverse all opioid overdoses, while preventing thousands of injections from occurring in public spaces.”

Over 90% of people in the study reported that they would have injected in a public restroom, street, park or parking lot had the site not been present, and over 85% reported needing to rush injections when not at the site.

More than 100 legal SCSs operate in 10 countries, but such sites are currently unsanctioned in the U.S.

The press conference can be viewed here: https://www.hri.global/conference-2019.

Barrot Lambdin
Barrot H. Lambdin, PhD, lead author of the paper and a senior epidemiologist and implementation scientist at RTI

Highlights

  • A study of the first four years of an unsanctioned supervised consumption service (SCS) in the U.S. shows that these sites can improve safety for people who use drugs and potentially reduce opioid-related overdose deaths.
  • The study found that over a four-and-a-half-year period the SCS was used 9,085 times by an estimated 540 individuals.
  • Over 90% of people in the study reported that they would have injected in a public restroom, street, park or parking lot had the site not been present, and over 85% reported needing to rush injections when not at the site.