Focusing on patients with the most severe and difficult-to-treat issues, the new £1.2m initiative is the first of its kind in Scotland.
Glasgow city health and social care partnership say it can’t afford not to act after a year with the highest number of drug deaths on record.
Unlike the proposed safe consumption facility, heroin-assisted treatment has been given the go-ahead by the Home Office.
Up to 20 people will be treated by the project in year one and up to 40 in year two. It aims to reduce the risk of overdose and blood-borne viruses such as HIV.
Patients attending the clinic will also be treated for physical health issues and helped to access social and mental support services.
Glasgow city health and social care partnerships says attendees must be “totally committed” to treatment.
Heroin will be injected only in a secure clinical room under “strict supervision” of trained nursing staff and the partnership stresses doses will never be dispensed for use elsewhere.
Partnership chief officer Susanne Millar said: “Sadly, Glasgow suffered a record number of drug-related deaths last year and there was also an increased number of non-fatal overdoses. This challenging social issue demands innovative treatments and this Gold Standard service is leading the way in Scotland.
“It is aimed at people with the most chaotic lifestyles and severe addictions who have not responded to existing treatments.
“People might question why health services are spending money providing heroin for people with addictions – the answer is ‘we can’t afford not to’. Not only are we are striving to save the lives of individuals themselves, but we also aim to reduce the spread of HIV and to reduce the impact of addictions on Glasgow families and communities.
“Successfully treating a person’s addiction not only helps them, but it also reduces pressures on frontline health and criminal justice services while reducing antisocial behaviour and drug-related crime in communities.”
Dr Saket Priyadarshi from Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services said heroin-assisted treatment was a “highly evidence-based” intervention.
He said the Glasgow service would come with “intensive psycho-social support”.
Westminster’s Scottish Affairs committee recently concluded there was “a strong evidence base” for a safe consumption facility in Glasgow.