2. Drug consumption rooms in Denmark: attitudes and experiences from local residents

Friday, 25 November, 2022 - 13:20 to 14:50
Central square 2 (C2)

Abstract

Drug consumption rooms (DCRs) have the potential to have a positive impact on the opioid crisis by reducing overdoses and drug-related harm. DCRs move beyond individual risk factors to address environmental risk factors. As such DCRs should not just be seen as changing the social and physical environment. This political dimension of DCRs is affected by the political and cultural context. This presentation will analyze how the Danish welfare state affected the local legitimacy of DCRs.

The paper is based on a case-study in Copenhagen about residents experiences of DCRs in their neighborhoods including semi-directive interviews (N=33) and a quantitative survey focused on residents (N=567).

Denmark has a long history of harm reduction policy and the implementation of DCRs in Copenhagen has happened through close collaboration between local authorities and the local community. Despite experiences of nuisance the DCRs have a high level of legitimacy among residents, based mainly on an inclusive welfare ideology. In Denmark, responsibility for welfare and health policy, including harm reduction policy, is delegated to local authorities. This means that an institutional framework exists for involving local stakeholders in the drafting of local harm reduction policies, such as the creation of DCRs. The majority of the residents, however, expressed the attitude that they wanted 'practical solutions to practical problems', and many of the residents were in favor of formal inclusion, in the sense that they wanted PWIDs to have access to social, health, and harm reduction services from the state in that area.

Implementing safe environment interventions that can reduce drug-related harms and opioid overdoses can benefit from focusing not only on the physical infrastructure, but also the social infrastructure of such interventions.

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