(excerpts from Impact: A socio-economic review of supervised consumption sites in Alberta, March 2020)

Canada’s Drug Strategy is based on four pillars: prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm reduction. Supervised [Drug] Consumption Sites (SCS) speak to the issue of harm reduction. However, the way this multipronged approach is currently implemented in Alberta, harm reduction has taken precedence over the other three pillars. (as too in Australia)

In many cases, “adverse events” (even if non-life threating or minor) are reported as overdoses, and the term “reversal” is used even when the response was a simple administration of oxygen. This leaves the public with an inference that without these sites thousands of people would fatally overdose or no longer be alive. Comparatively rare cases resulted in the use of naloxone. As a result, the committee became concerned with issues of transparency and accountability with the regards to the way overdose reversals are tracked and reported. The committee finds this misleading and the ambiguity and faulty reporting cannot responsibly make such a determination.

The Committee became concerned with the lack of focus on referrals to detoxification and treatment resources. Where it was suggested that referrals were made, no evidence was found to support action taken to follow up on such referrals.

Non-opioid substance use, specifically methamphetamine use at some SCS sites, increased substantially and numerous residents complained about aggressive and erratic behaviour of substance users leaving the sites.

Needle debris was a substantial issue with many residents complaining about used and unused needles, broken crack pipes and other drug-related paraphernalia being discarded in the vicinity of the sites and in public areas near the sites.

Except for Edmonton, stakeholder feedback predominantly suggested that the SCS have had a negative social and economic impact on the community. In Edmonton, however, there were reports that stakeholders felt intimidated and were prevented from expressing their true sentiments and opinions about these sites out of fear of retribution from site supporters. The Review Committee also learned about questionable practices (for example, introducing non-injection users to injection practices by SCS staff); the use of 40 naloxone reversal kits by a single client; the alleged misrepresentation of site statistics; and an apparent under-utilization of the full scope of care while inappropriately favouring harm reduction. The Review Committee also noted that there were several potential liability issues for sites and staff arising from the information that had been provided.

The Committee found that several of the SCS sites were not promoting paths to treatment and recovery.

The Committee found that the biggest issue that impacted communities was needle debris. The current SCS policy is needle distribution as opposed to needle exchange. The Province of Alberta should immediately enact policy for needle exchange.

The Committee found that enforcement of the law proximal to the SCS sites in Alberta was inconsistent and often absent due to local politics, interpretation of the law, fear of criticism and apathy. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, in consultation with front-line police officers, needs to create a meaningful and consistent policing policy that empowers law enforcement in and around the sites to maximize public safety.

The SCS sites were mandated to respond to the opioid crisis; however, they are responding to methamphetamine use up to 50 per cent of the time in some locations. There is a significant requirement for a different strategy to respond to methamphetamine use.

A significant impact on all communities hosting a SCS site was open defecation and urination in public spaces that include doorways, garages, streets, walkways, resident yards and parks. Municipalities should immediately provide for permanent public washroom facilities in and around the SCS sites.

Supervised Consumption Services should be directed by addiction medicine expertise as an entry point to recovery-oriented systems of care, including a managed opioid program. Managed opioid programs and opioid agonist therapies have been shown throughout the literature to reduce criminal behaviour and drug trafficking.

Download PDF

26 August 2019|RESEARCH

The residents live it and know it, the community know it and now the Police confirm it! 

Drug Offences Up, Crime is Up, Stalking, Harassment & Threatening Behavior is up in Richmond since the MSIR! 

Click here for Stats and details Our Community deserves better

image4article

At best, the Sydney injecting room hosts just 5% of Kings Cross/Darlinghurst

injections but accounts for a staggering 77% of all the recorded overdoses in the Kings Cross/Darlinghurst area. 400 overdoses are recorded on average in the facility each year. But the injecting room’s own clients inject more often in the streets and houses outside the facility than in it, where the overdose rates outside should roughly match those inside the injecting room, but don’t.

Download PDF

 

15/11/17  By  Professor Neil McKeganey

Last week Scotland’s leading law officer, the Lord Advocate, brought a shuddering halt to a proposal from Glasgow City Council to develop a safe injecting centre in the city. Such a centre would have required a change in UK drug laws to enable individuals in possession of illegal drugs to use those drugs within the centre without fear of prosecution. Supporters of this initiative will be disappointed by the outcome, but they need to recognise that the provision of some level of legal protection covering the possession of illegal drugs within the injecting centre would also, by implication, need to be extended to all of those who might claim, legitimately or otherwise, that their drug possession should be green-lighted because they were en route to the injecting centre. In effect, such an initiative would deliver what many of its supporters actually desire – the legalisation of illegal drugs within at least some part of the UK.

In his judgement, the Lord Advocate has not ruled against setting up a centre where doctors can prescribe opiate drugs to addicts. Rather he has simply pointed out that he is not prepared to offer legal protection to a centre where illegal drugs are being used. The Glasgow proposal sought unwisely to tie the proposal for a doctor-led heroin prescribing clinic, which would be legal, with a setting where individuals are allowed to use illegal drugs which would break UK drug laws. There will be many who rightly question the wisdom (and the cost to the public purse) of linking those two proposals.

For more