Homeless drug users in Scotland will be allowed to inject pharmaceutical-grade heroin twice a day under the supervision of medical officials as part of a new program intended to reduce drug deaths and H.I.V infection.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, a $1.5 million facility in Glasgow that opened last recently will allow a handful of drug users to receive doses of the drug alongside other treatment for their physical and psychological health, according to the Glasgow City Council.

The pilot project, known as heroin-assisted treatment, is the first such licensed operation in Scotland, a country that has been called the ''drug death capital'' of the world.

It has struggled to cope with high rates of fatal drug overdoses and its worst H.I.V outbreak in decades.

The program will target those with the ''most severe, longstanding and complex addiction issues,'' the City Council said.

It aims to reduce the risk of overdoses and the spread of viruses such as H.I.V. by prescribing diamorphine - the clinical name for pharmaceutical-grade heroin - for patients to inject in a secure clinical room under the supervision of trained medics.

the clinic opened in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, after Britain's Home Office granted it a license. It follows a similar initiative that began in Middlesbrough,England, in October.

Up to 20 patients are expected to take part in the first year of Glasgow's program, with the number set to double in the second year.

''Heroin-assisted treatment is a much clinical service aimed at getting people stable,'' Andrew McAuley, a senior research fellow on substance use at  Glasgow Caledonian University, said in an interview last week.

''The program is a significant step forward, albeit, for a small number of people.''

The program, called the Enhanced Drug Treatment Service, is intended for those who have exhausted other treatment options such as residential rehabilitation, methadone and community addiction services.

It is available only to drug users already involved with the city's team fighting addiction among homeless people.

The program is not intended to be long term, with research suggesting that clinical benefits can be seen after six weeks of treatment.

It requires patients to visit the city clinic twice a day, seven days a week, a demand that may be too much for those not used to such a routine, Mr. McAuley said. ''It's a large commitment,'' he said. 

Glasgow has ambitious plans to support its residents with drug -addiction issues, but Scottish officials say it has been hindered by Britain's 1971 drug law.

Glasgow officials have pushed for years to establish consumption spaces in the city where drug users could inject their own drugs in a safe, clean environment but their efforts have been rebuffed by the British government.

Britain's Misuse of Drugs Act, the 1971 law, stipulates that anyone ''concerned in the management of any premises'' or any occupier who knowingly allows drugs to be prepared there can face prosecution.

The operational research on substance use and advances in treatment, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Anna Schaverien and Allison Mccann.


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