Last week the province announced the approval of supervised consumption sites in Edmonton and Lethbridge. HIV North has been performing their own needs assessment to see if a similar clinic is needed.
Out of the 200 active users they spoke to, 80 per cent said they would use the site if available. Executive Director Melissa Buyers says they are looking at an integrated site model based on a harm reduction strategy.
“Harm reduction is basically meeting people where they’re at. What we’ll do with that then is just kind of, people come in they use drugs safely. [They’re] treated like human beings and then the chance of them actually accessing services that are needed significantly increases.”
Buyers says with the opioid crisis it could reduce “community related overdoses”. It could also reduce demand on first responders and the emergency room.
She also says she has heard of a recent spike in over-doses following a large drug bust last month.
“I think even when they’re getting the drugs off the streets it doesn’t change the demand. So, I don’t think we’re moving the needle actually. I think there’s a lot of opioid related harms that are still happening in our community that we need to start addressing in more preventative ways.”
Their needs assessment was completed in August, they have no timeline but are planning to move ahead with a proposal to Alberta Health. The location is also still to be determined.