Mobilizing drug consumption rooms: inter-place networks and harm reduction drug policy

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Abstract

This article discusses the learning and politics involved in spreading Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) globally. DCRs are health facilities, operating under a harm reduction philosophy, where people consume illicit drugs in a supervised setting. Approximately 90 are located in almost 60 cities in 11 countries. They are intensely local attempts to improve the lives of specific populations and urban neighborhoods. DCRs are also global models that travel. This article examines the relationship between DCRs as facilities that are fixed in place and DCRs as globally-mobilized models of drug policy and public health practice. Drawing on research from seven countries, we apply concepts from the policy mobilities literature to analyze the travels of the DCR model and the political strategies involved in the siting of these public health service facilities. We detail the networked mobilization of the DCR model from Europe to Canada and Australia, the learning among facilities, the strategies used to mold the DCR model to local contexts, and the role of DCR staff in promoting continued proliferation of DCRs. We conclude by identifying some immobilities of DCRs to identify questions about practices, principles and future directions of harm reduction.

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