SAFER drug consumption facilities (SDCF) and drug checking could provide “vital support” to users living in Edinburgh, a study has said.

According to a team of experts at the University of Stirling, SDCFs could be key to addressing drug harms in the capital.

The study, commissioned by the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, recommends SDCFs to be set up in a number of locations across the city.

It comes in light of concern surrounding drug usage in Edinburgh.

Last September, the first official consumption room in the UK was given the green light after authorities in Glasgow approved the move.

READ MORE: How do safe drug consumption rooms work?

Earlier that month, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC said that it would "not be in the public interest" to bring proceedings against people using illegal drugs within such facilities. 

First Minister Humza Yousaf said Glasgow's pilot will be shaped by research carried out in New York City

Researchers noted “changing patterns” of drug use in Edinburgh, including a rise in the number of people injecting cocaine, the use of multiple drugs at the same time, and high levels of benzodiazepine abuse.

Benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for anxiety, insomnia and seizures.

Researchers say the city’s “complex and variable” patterns of drug consumption mean SDCFs must do more than allow people to inject heroin.

A total of 22 people who inject drugs were interviewed for the study, as well as families and professionals working in health.

People working in housing, treatment and other services were also interviewed, and were “strongly supportive” of SDCF provision as part of a wider harm reduction and treatment response.

READ MORE: Drug consumption rooms given green light by top Scottish Government lawyer

The participants agreed SDCFs are non-judgemental spaces and could help steer people towards recovery.

There are more than 200 SDCFs operating globally in about 12 countries, with the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership set to open one in the city later this year.

Edinburgh councillors are due to meet in March to discuss the study, which was conducted by the University of Stirling, Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow and Figure 8 Consultancy.

Dr James Nicholls, senior lecturer in public health at the University of Stirling, said: “While safer drug consumption facilities are not a silver bullet, our study indicates they could provide vital support for marginalised and vulnerable groups in Edinburgh and play an important role in addressing the high levels of drug harms in the city.”

Councillors will also discuss feasibility on drug checking services (DCS) in Edinburgh, after the study found a demand for such facilities in the city.

It found Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow should be used as pilot areas.

Dr Hannah Carver, senior lecturer in substance use at the University of Stirling, said: “The results of both these studies into DCS show that drug checking services in Scotland need to be adaptable to local needs.

“There clearly is not a one-size-fits-all solution.”