A country known as the "drug death capital of the world" is doing something to chip away at that label. As part of a pilot program launched Tuesday in Glasgow, Scotland, up to 20 homeless drug users who fall into the most "severe" and "complex" addiction category will be able to visit a $1.5 million facility twice daily to inject pharmaceutical-grade heroin provided by by NHS Scotland under nurses' supervision. The New York Times reports the number of addicts is expected to double in year two of the program, which aims to cut back on both overdoses—the country claims the highest drug-death rate in the EU—and the transmission of HIV. Participants have to commit to showing up without fail 7 days a week, and the Times reports the intention is that they'd participate in a short-term fashion, though it doesn't elaborate on how that would be achieved.
The Guardian notes, however, that the intensive schedule of 14 weekly visits means the on-site nurses will be able to develop relationships with the patients and shepherd them toward other available services ranging from mental and physical check-ups to housing assistance. "This holistic approach aims to stabilize and reduce drug use," it explains. As far as the process, each patient will spend 20 minutes in a privacy booth whose mirrored back wall gives nurses a view of the injection; they'll then sit in an adjacent seating area for another 20 minutes where they'll be watched for signs of an overdose. The BBC reports Glagow is home to what's thought to be 13,600 "problem" drug users, though it doesn't specify how many are homeless. (Read more heroin stories.)