Supervised Consumption Services: The Next Step for Public Health-Based Drug Policy in Colorado

Supervised consumption services (SCS), also known as supervised injection facilities (SIFs) and safer injection facilities, are legally sanctioned facilities designed to reduce the health and public order issues often associated with public injection.

SCS provide a space for people to consume pre-obtained drugs in controlled settings under the supervision of trained staff and with access to sterile injecting equipment. Participants can also receive health care, counseling, and referrals to health and social services, including drug treatment.

Why SCS?

SCS are intended to complement – not replace – existing prevention, harm reduction and treatment interventions as part of a comprehensive public health approach to overdose and other negative consequences of problematic drug use.

Over 100 such programs are already operating successfully around the world while advocacy continues to establish these essential public health services in the United States. Statewide efforts are currently gaining momentum in New York and California in addition to local plans evolving in cities like Seattle, San Francisco, IthacaBaltimore, New York City and Philadelphia.

As shown in recent cost-benefit analyses on prospective SIFs in San Francisco and Baltimore, SIFs are extremely cost effective and can generate millions of dollars in annual savings. Evidence shows they improve access to drug treatment and other needed services while reducing the risk of disease transmission and skin and soft tissue infections, preventing overdose deaths, and providing alternatives to public injecting and improper syringe disposal. That is why a growing body of public health experts and medical professionals, including the American Medical Association, support the establishment of these facilities in the United States.

Learn more about how SCS/SIFs help reduce the harms associated with drug use in this video from Luceo.

Colorado Urgently Needs SCS

Colorado has made strides in improving harm reduction services like sterile syringe access and naloxone availability, but our communities still experience far too many needless overdose deaths with rates higher than the national average. Public injecting in spaces such as parks and business restrooms is also an ongoing concern.

It is time for Colorado to take the next step in public health-based drug policy by establishing SCS/SIFs.

Get Involved

Along with our friends at the Harm Reduction Action Center, Drug Policy Alliance believes that SCS are urgently needed in Colorado. During the 2018 legislative session we advocated for SB18-040, a proposal that included provisions for a supervised injection facility pilot program for the City and County of Denver. Despite extensive supportive testimony and virtually no opposition, the bill was defeated in committee. We won’t be discouraged and your help is more important than ever moving forward!

Join the Colorado SCS Campaign to express your commitment to making this vital public health service available in Colorado. We’ll provide updates and calls to action that will keep you engaged in this advocacy.

If you are a business owner, also join the business coalition to pledge your support for an evidence-based intervention that will prevent disease and needless deaths by providing a safe alternative to public spaces for people who inject drugs.

Join the Colorado SCS Campaign now.

Additional Resources

Supervised Consumption Services