Belfast City Council has been urged to introduce an Overdose Prevention Facility after a string of recent deaths.
On Tuesday, a group of people with experience of substance abuse met with Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black to discuss the issues around supporting vulnerable people in the city.
The meeting was initiated by Homeless Connect, the representative body of homelessness in Northern Ireland.
It follows recent reports that 15 people have died from overdoses in Belfast since June.
Part of Homeless Connect’s work includes managing the Regional Service Users Network (RSUN).
Funded by the Public Health Agency, it is composed of volunteers who offer mutual support as well as representation and advocacy for people who use substances in Northern Ireland.
RSUN Project Manager, Sherlyn Logue, said: “Every life lost to substance use is an avoidable tragedy, and there are achievable steps that can be taken now that would reduce the harm and danger for so many people.
“First of all, we need to provide safe, supervised spaces for substance consumption, somewhere that ensures safe needle use, and where problems and emergencies can be swiftly responded to,” she said.
“Secondly, the live-saving drug naloxone (which gives immediate treatment to relieve the symptoms of an overdose) needs to be available within the community of people who use drugs, so that it can be administered peer-to-peer, without having to wait for the emergency services.
“Lastly, in the longer term, there needs to be a shift in responsibility at Stormont in responding to substance use, this needs to be treated as a health issue and not a criminal issue.
“RSUN is standing ready to support individuals, to help shape the future support of people who use substances across Northern Ireland.”
Further information on the RSUN can be found at this location.