“Usually I stick to my methadone scenario, but I just wanted something today to make me feel better.”
The woman and her partner were about to find their next fix in a Glasgow city center alley when they learned of the drug van parked just yards away.
Now preparing to shoot into the clean surroundings of the vehicle, the woman tells STV News, “I didn’t know this place existed.
“I went down the alley to inject myself, but I know I’m in danger of going there.
“It stinks in there. I’m just sick of the mess. I always try to pick up the needles that I use, why not everyone? ”
The woman, who has been on methadone for more than a decade, leaves the van after her treatment and goes to get her prescription.
The man behind Scotland’s first mobile drug-taking van says he is determined to continue operating the service despite the risk of legal action.
Peter Krykant, a recovering heroin addict and former drug worker, has turned a minibus into a facility where addicts can safely take drugs under supervision. He hopes this will prevent overdoses and blood-borne viruses among users.
Along with clean needles and harm reduction advice, there are also medical supplies on board – including naloxone, which is used to reverse a potentially fatal overdose.
Mr Krykant told STV News: “I have repeatedly answered the question, ‘What if someone overdoses and dies in your van?
“I think it’s a scare tactic. We know from experience that if someone has an opioid overdose, we can reverse that by giving naloxone.
“We see people dying all the time in our alleys and in our streets because by the time an ambulance arrives at their place, it is too late.
One user, who found out about the van by word of mouth, has been using drugs for over 20 years.
The 44-year-old said: “I had a business, a house, a family.
“One evening, one of my co-workers offered me a line of cocaine, I said yes. The next night I asked him for two. Then I switched to the injection.
He believes users will be less likely to make a mistake in the van because they won’t have to hurry or feel pressured by the street CCTV.
The man’s friend, who was there to support him, said: “The van is a great idea. It should be like this all the time.
“I’ve seen people use dirty water, even their urine, to inject themselves.
“They use in the street and they try to hide, but not well enough.
“A few days ago, I saw a guy in an alley, injecting himself in his groin.
Mr Krykant started the service despite previous calls for a legal drinking room in the city rejected by the Home Office.
He was warned that running such a facility put him at risk of committing offenses under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
With nearly 500 injecting users in Glasgow city center, Mr Krykant is urging the country’s top legal official to act.
He said: ‘I think the change has to come straight to Scotland from our Lord Advocate, who has the powers that are vested in ordering the police not to pursue any convictions around a consumption facility and not to fund anyone. using a consumption facility. ‘
Mr Krykant’s appeal comes as Scotland tops the ranking of highest drug deaths in the EU and Glasgow tackles its worst HIV epidemic in 30 years.
Nathan Sparling, the managing director of HIV Scotland, believes there must be a unique Scottish and Glasgow response to this, but the UK government “has not allowed it”.
He added: “All expert advice suggests that drug consumption rooms not only stop overdose deaths, but reduce HIV infections.
“We need to be able to have this intervention because it goes way beyond just drug use – it will help the well-being of the general population.
Responding to the launch of the van, a spokesperson for the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The Lord Advocate is committed to reducing the damage caused by illicit drugs, but has made it clear that the introduction of ‘Such a facility would require legislative change to establish a regime for its operation through a democratically accountable process. ”
Deputy Chief Constable Gary Ritchie has said Scottish Police are committed to improving the safety and well-being of people, places and communities across the country, “including those who are addicted to drugs” .
He added: “Problematic drug use and addiction are complex public health issues, which have long-lasting and pernicious impacts on individuals and families, as well as on our villages, towns and cities.
“We are engaged in ongoing work with the Drug Death Task Force and a range of recovery partners and communities to explore holistic and sympathetic approaches to finding lasting, lasting and effective solutions.
“At present, the creation of any form of safe drinking place contravenes several sections of the Drug Abuse Act 1971 and any attempt to circumvent the law as it stands to provide a fully equipped facility. unlicensed and unregulated can expose vulnerable people to more risk and harm. . “