Canada’s Drug Strategy is based on four pillars: prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm reduction. SCS sites 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. Often the Review Committee heard that treatment referrals from SCS sites were little more than nominal suggestions and rarely in the consultation process did anyone speak to the issue of prevention. We were provided with exceedingly limited documentation of successful referrals of SCS clients into the appropriate level of addiction recovery treatment.
Another concern for the Committee related to law enforcement in and around the sites. Contrary to what many believe, trafficking and possession of illicit drugs remains illegal. Substances such as heroin, non-prescribed fentanyl and methamphetamine are still restricted under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The exemption under Section 56.1 is, “For the purpose of allowing certain activities to take place at a supervised consumption site…” This exemption is not a blanket one that suspends the act in some broadly undefined vicinity of the site; it is applied explicitly at the site. The exemption does not authorize drug dealing, or the possession of substantial quantities of illegal substances within an arbitrary distance from the site. (excerpt pp 34,35)
The above sounds familiar – all too familiar. When harm reduction vehicles serve the pro-drug lobby and not the substance use trapped psyche, it is utterly inappropriate.
It is very concerning when the health and well-being of those caught in the tyranny of addiction are not being led into drug use exiting processes, but merely becoming a hapless pawn in a disturbing and manipulative exercise of drug use ‘normalization.’
Instead of an efficacy for recovery review, we are going to double down on another drug consumption site, only perpetuating the growing personal and community harms.