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Lessons from the heroin injecting room

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Almost two decades ago a wave of drug-related deaths in NSW led the then Carr
Government to hold a drug crisis summit.

A key outcome of the summit was the bold plan to establish a medically supervised injecting
centre (MSIC) – then it was the first of its kind in the English speaking world.

Drug users used to shoot up in laneways at Kings Cross until an injecting room was set up in a nearby church premises.Credit:Rick Stevens

Uniting MSIC was set up in King Cross which had the highest concentration of people dying
from drug overdose in Australia.

Many were sceptical of the move, others were openly hostile. There were fears it would
give the "green light" to drug taking, a form of moral approval.

In the more than 18 years since it opened, there have been more than one million injections
supervised. In that time there has been 8000 overdoses – but there has not been one single

The centre has not only saved lives, one study has shown the number of ambulance call-
outs to Kings Cross has dropped by 80%, taking the strain off emergency services and saving
precious health resources.

A safe injecting........

© The Sydney Morning Herald