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Blue lights don’t deter drug use, says charity

toilet bathed in blue light
The Transform Drug Policy Foundation is cautioning that the use of the coloured LEDs in toilets and other locations – designed to make it harder for users to find veins – doesn’t act as a deterrent.

The use of blue light doesn’t deter intravenous drug use and may be making matters worse, a UK addiction charity has warned.

The Transform Drug Policy Foundation is cautioning that the use of the coloured LEDs in toilets and other locations – designed to make it harder for users to find veins – doesn’t act as a deterrent.

‘It does make it more dangerous because they can’t see as clearly what they are doing,’ said TDPF’s Martin Powell. ‘We call on businesses not to use it.’

The UK Government also advises against the practice, but big brands such as Starbucks and Asda are among the businesses still using blue lights. 

It persists among entertainment venues such as pubs and clubs.

Powell says a change in emphasis is needed. ’Instead they should encourage the council to introduce safer drug consumption rooms – clinics where people can inject under medical supervision – taking the problem off the streets and out of toilets.

‘This would also save lives and money, while helping get people into treatment. I have seen how well they work in other countries.’

Maggie Telfer, of the Bristol Drugs Project, told the Bristol Post: ’The reality is most likely people continue to inject but do more damage to their veins and increase the risk of developing skin and soft tissue infections,’ said

“No one wants to be injecting in a toilet or any other public area but many people who inject drugs, including many who are homeless, simply don’t have an alternative.’

In the United States, many city and municipal authorities are in favour of the practice, and  Philadelphia’s Health Department actually gives out the lights for residents to install on their front porches to prevent public drug use.