Plans to open a safe injection site for drug users in Reykjavík are moving forward according to Vísir. Minister of Health Svandís Svavardóttir is drafting legislation to legalise such a center.
The proposed centre was the recommendation of a commission tasked with minimising the risks of drug use. The site will offer sterile needles and basic health care to people who take intravenous drugs. The Red Cross of Iceland will run the centre on a proposed budget is 50 million ISK a year, with the city’s Welfare Department will coordinate with the Red Cross. While it is hoped it will open next year, neither an exact time nor location have been released yet.
The use of opioids has increased greatly over the past few years and deaths from overdoses are approaching the rate in the United States. This year has seen a sharp increase in drug-related deaths and the most at-risk group are young men. The appearance of fentanyl is further exacerbated by the lack of education and an overstretched mental health care system.
The state, city, and non-profits have been working on the idea for some time, as the Grapevine reported earlier this year. The Red Cross estimates there are around 700 habitual IV drug users in Iceland and more deaths from their use than car accidents.
Centres such as this have had success in decreasing deaths and the spread of infections such as HIV around the world for decades. The Red Cross has been operating a mobile unit for years, but a legal, stable, and state-funded centre would be more effective.