Acceptability of safe drug consumption spaces among people who inject drugs in rural West Virginia

Allison O'Rourke, Rebecca Hamilton White, Ju Nyeong Park, Kayla Rodriguez, Michael E. Kilkenny, Susan G. Sherman, Sean T. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Safe consumption spaces (SCS) are indoor environments in which people can use drugs with trained personnel on site to provide overdose reversal and risk reduction services. SCS have been shown to reduce fatal overdoses, decrease public syringe disposal, and reduce public drug consumption. Existing SCS research in the USA has explored acceptability for the hypothetical use of SCS, but primarily among urban populations of people who inject drugs (PWID). Given the disproportionate impact of the opioid crisis in rural communities, this research examines hypothetical SCS acceptability among a rural sample of PWID in West Virginia. Methods: Data were drawn from a 2018 cross-sectional survey of PWID (n = 373) who reported injection drug use in the previous 6 months and residence in Cabell County, West Virginia. Participants were asked about their hypothetical use of a SCS with responses dichotomized into two groups, likely and unlikely SCS users. Chi-square and t tests were conducted to identify differences between likely and unlikely SCS users across demographic, substance use, and health measures. Results: Survey participants were 59.5% male, 83.4% non-Hispanic White, and 79.1% reported likely hypothetical SCS use. Hypothetical SCS users were significantly (p <.05) more likely to have recently (past 6 months) injected cocaine (38.3% vs. 25.7%), speedball (41.0% vs. 24.3%), and to report preferring drugs containing fentanyl (32.5% vs. 20.3%). Additionally, likely SCS users were significantly more likely to have recently experienced an overdose (46.8% vs. 32.4%), witnessed an overdose (78.3% vs. 60.8%), and received naloxone (51.2% vs. 37.8%). Likely SCS users were less likely to have borrowed a syringe from a friend (34.6% vs. 48.7%). Conclusions: Rural PWID engaging in high-risk behaviors perceive SCS as an acceptable harm reduction strategy. SCS may be a viable option to reduce overdose fatalities in rural communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalHarm reduction journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 31 2019


  • Harm reduction
  • PWID
  • People who inject drugs
  • Rural public health
  • Supervised consumption spaces
  • Supervised injection facilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Acceptability of safe drug consumption spaces among people who inject drugs in rural West Virginia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this