PREPRINT: Overdose prevention centres as spaces of safety, trust and inclusion: a causal pathway based on a realist review

Alex Stevens, Jolie R Keemink, Sam Shirley-Beavan, Zarnie Khadjesari, Adelina Artenie, Peter Vickerman, Mat Southwell, Gillian Shorter

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

Background
Overdose prevention centres (OPCs) are non-residential spaces where people can use illicit drugs (that they have obtained elsewhere) in the presence of staff who can intervene in order to prevent and reverse any overdoses that occur. Many reviews of OPCs exist, but few explain how OPCs work.
Methods
We carried out a realist review, using the RAMESES reporting standards. We systematically searched for and then thematically analysed 391 documents that provide information on the contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes of OPCs.
Findings
Our retroductive analysis identified a causal pathway that highlights the feeling of safety – and the immediate outcome of not dying - as conditions of possibility for the people who use OPCs to build trust and experience social inclusion. The combination of safety, trust, and social inclusion that is triggered by OPCs can – depending on the contexts in which they operate - generate other positive outcomes, which may include less risky drug use practices, reductions in blood borne viruses and injection-related infections and wounds, and access to housing.
Interpretation
OPCs can enable people who live with structural violence and vulnerability to develop feelings of safety and trust that help them stay alive and to build longer term trajectories of social inclusion, with potential to improve other aspects of their health and living conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2023

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