IT has been years in the making.

Finally, approval for a drug consumption room in Glasgow has been given and there appears to be nothing to stop it from being open as soon as it can be ready.

It was more than five years ago that the idea was first raised, in response to an outbreak of HIV among people who inject drugs in Glasgow.

At the same time drug deaths, already unacceptably high, were on the increase as people were dying from overdose.

Drug consumption rooms had been shown to work in other countries, with dozens operating in Europe.

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They all work in different ways responding to the specific needs of the population, both those who inject drugs and those who live in the community.

What they all had in common was that people do not die when they inject drugs in that environment.

The equipment and the environment are clean, no-one is sharing needles, which reduces the risk already and there are trained staff on hand to supervise and intervene if someone overdoses.

The alternative and this is what has been happening in Glasgow is people are finding spaces outdoors or in derelict buildings, which are more often than not filthy, equipment is shared and there is no-one around if something goes wrong.

While the council and health board wanted to act, other authorities dithered and in the case of the Home Office outright denied Glasgow the opportunity to save lives.

The plans could go no further.

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At the same time, one man took matters into his own hands.

Peter Krykant, who had experience of drug taking outdoors in the unhygienic conditions mentioned above opened his Overdose Prevention Centre, in a van in the Trongate area where he knew people would come.

And they did come.

Peter and his fellow volunteers put themselves at risk of arrest to offer this facility and they saved lives.

They saved lives by simply being there with a clean environment but also intervened on a number of occasions to prevent overdose from becoming fatal.

In the months that he parked his van, then later a converted ambulance in that street he probably did more than anyone else to stop people who use drugs dying.

He also showed a facility that worked and people would use it.

During that time Peter took me to some sites where people injected drugs.

One was on the banks of the River Clyde. It was strewn with old used needles, syringes, spoons, and empty beer and cider cans and bottles.

It was muddy and remote while only a few hundred yards from the city centre.

There were many other sites like it around the Glasgow Cross area and into Calton around the Barras.

During this time the health board and council officials were still working on their proposal awaiting others to make a decision that would allow it to happen.

A site was earmarked and a plan for how it would be staffed and operated was drawn up.

Still, the Home Office refused and Scotland’s Lord Advocate at the time said it would need a change in the law at Westminster to the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.

Inevitably that precipitated a political fight, that Westminster blocking Scotland from doing something that could help with a peculiar Scottish problem.

Meantime even more people died.

People died who didn’t need to die.

The number of men and women who died as a result of drugs increased to record levels in Scotland, the highest in Europe, three times the rate in England.

During that time the Scottish Government shamefully cut the budgets for drug and alcohol partnerships.

A drug consumption room has the potential to reduce the number of people who die in drug deaths.

Glasgow should have one because Glasgow needs one.

But alone it is not enough.

It will keep people alive, but it can only be truly considered a success if it works with other services that get people off drugs.

Because having people in recovery and supporting them over the long term is the best way to ensure they are not going to be in the next round of statistics.

Again, there are people working in the recovery sector who have been pressing ahead, trying to get more services, more rehab, more residential rehab for those who need it.

They should be listened to.

Now that we are starting to see a change in attitude from governments, with the Scottish Government committing more money and the UK Government stating it won’t block the consumption room, it is time for a joined-up strategy.

The consumption room must be a gateway to the services that can change lives for the better and allow people another chance at a life where their potential can be realised.

The Health and Social Care Partnership deserves credit for sticking to its principles on this but it must be seen as just the start in Glasgow leading the fightback against drug deaths that has shamed this city for far too long.