Supervised Injecting Facilities

A Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) is a clean, safe, healthcare environment where people can inject drugs, obtained elsewhere, under the supervision of trained health professionals. They offer a compassionate, person-centred service which reduces the harms associated with injecting drug use and can help people access appropriate services. A SIF can help health service staff to reach and support vulnerable and marginalised people who often do not, cannot or no longer engage with existing health services.

Typically, supervised injecting facilities provide people who use drugs with sterile injecting equipment; counselling services before and after drug consumption; emergency response in the event of overdose; and primary medical care. The supervised injecting facility aims to:

• reduce drug-related overdose deaths
• reduce the risks of disease transmission through shared needles
• reduce public health risks such as needle-stick injuries and
• connect the most vulnerable and marginalised people who use drugs with treatment services and other health and social services.

The facilities typically consist of a reception area, a drug consumption area and a recovery area. In addition, they usually provide an area where people can receive support from relevant health services and support groups to help improve their health and social circumstances. The exterior of a SIF looks like any other health or social care premises. There are now approximately 90 of these facilities worldwide, in Europe, Canada, and Australia. There is significant evidence gathered from these facilities of their benefits to people who use drugs and the wider society.

Visit our Supervised Injection Facilities FAQs page to learn more. 

Please see article below which examines the relationship between frequent SIF use and all-cause mortality among people who inject drugs in Vancouver, Canada.

Supervised Injection Facility use and all cause mortality among people who inject drugs in Vancover, Cananda: A cohort study.Kennedy, Hayashi et al, 2019

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015

On 15 December 2015 the Government approved the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015 to allow for supervised injecting facilities and commenced the process of enacting this bill into legislation.

A press release at the time said: “These facilities can help in harm reduction and alleviate some of the complex needs of a vulnerable and hard to reach group of addicts. They are not the only solution to addressing drug addiction, but will play a significant role in reducing street injecting and drug related deaths”.

The bill passed through the Seanad on 10 May 2017.

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Death from Drug Poisoning

Research published by the Health Research Board showed that 354 people died in 2014 due to drug poisoning. One in four of these deaths was caused by heroin use. Half of heroin related deaths were injectors. Setting up a supervised injecting facility will allow for earlier medical intervention in the case of overdoses and can also act as a gateway to treatment for drug users.

Medically supervised injecting facilities, where illicit drugs can be used under the supervision of trained staff, have been operating in Europe for the last three decades. These facilities primarily aim to:

  • reduce the risks of disease transmission through unhygienic injecting;
  • prevent drug-related overdose deaths; and
  • connect high-risk drug users with addiction treatment and other health and social services.

They also seek to reduce:

  • drug use in public places;
  • drug-related litter; and
  • other related public order problems linked with open drug using.

Typically, medically supervised injecting facilities, provide drug users with:

  • sterile injecting equipment;
  • counselling services before and after drug consumption;
  • emergency response in the event of overdose; and
  • access to primary medical care interventions.

An important part of the service will be to refer drug users to appropriate social healthcare and addiction treatment services.

Funding was announced for development of this facility in 2017.

The National Social Inclusion Team headed by Dr Eamon Keenan, Clinical Lead, will be integral to the setting up of a pilot facility in Dublin City.