Researchers call for supervised injection sites to prevent overdose deaths

CBC News Ottawa report on our event "Sharing the evidence: TOSCA and drug consumption sites in Ottawa".

Contains graphic images of drug injection.

Harm reduction continues to save lives

September 30th 2012 marks the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision stating that InSite, Vancouver’s supervised consumption site, could not be closed by the federal government. In their 2011 ruling, the Supreme Court noted "the experiment has proven successful. InSite has saved lives and improved health without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area." A year later Ottawa community members are still calling for the city to implement supervised consumption sites as part of an effective strategy to address substance use issues facing the community.

Ottawa ‘needs safe injection site to reduce HIV rate’

Former drug users and the families and friends of the many Ottawans lost to drug overdoses renewed calls for a safe injection site in the city Friday during International Overdose Awareness Day.

“As we are seeing more people turn to heroin, my concern is that these overdoses could increase,” said Dr. Lynne Leonard, a social epidemiologist and Research Scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa.

“By providing a supervised injection site we would reduce the personal risk and community costs of drug use,” she said.

Report urges shift from treating addiction as a criminal issue to public health one

The war on drugs is a "destructive" failure that is fuelling the transmission of HIV/AIDS, according to a former Supreme Court justice.

Louise Arbour, who has also served as UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, said a "repressive" approach to drug policies is not only a public health disaster — but a colossal waste from an economic perspective as well.

Rejection of supervised injection sites in Ottawa too hasty, group says

A local community group said it’s a shame that Mayor Jim Watson and police chief Charles Bordeleau gave “knee-jerk” reactions Wednesday opposing supervised injection sites in Ottawa.

Caleb Chepesiuk, a member of Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa, said he wants to keep the discussion going on whether Ottawa should have such sites, even if Watson and Bordeleau are against them.

Ottawa-based group Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites reacts to the Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment

Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa (CSCS) welcomes the final report of the TOSCA study as a critical piece of research looking at potential responses to the issues of substance use in our community. We would first like to thank the researchers and community members in Ottawa and Toronto who put the work into this very important study.

Creation of two drug injection facilities recommended for Ottawa

A team of researchers Wednesday recommended the creation of two supervised injection facilities in Ottawa and three in Toronto.

After what is thought to be the broadest study of its kind, the researchers concluded that such facilities would improve the health and reduce harm among drug users. They could also reduce public drug use and save money for the health system, they said.

Safe is the New Risky

Dr. Mark Tyndall thinks the national capital needs a safe injection site. But championing the cause of harm reduction is proving to be a hard sell.

Do you care whether David Becker lives or dies? Perhaps that isn’t a fair question, considering you don’t even know the guy.

Supervised Injection Sites and Needle Exchanges: Why harm reduction matters for public health

By Julia Burpee

“Addiction is a really lonely thing. You think you’re basically the only person on the planet … that’s the way I felt,” says Sean LeBlanc, 37, explaining that five years ago he was homeless and injecting heroin every day.

Harm reduction services helped him recover from his addiction, he says. Safe needle exchanges operated out of community health centres and mobile vans, referrals to addictions treatment, community outreach workers and peer support groups are part of the harm reduction public health model.

Insite: ‘Too early to tell’ if it works?

In the 1990s, Vancouver was Canada’s capital of drug-related crime and home to the fastest-growing AIDS epidemic in North America. Back then, drug users injecting were a common sight in the city’s Downtown Eastside. They were doing so against the backdrop of a changing HIV epidemic in Canada, with the concentration of the disease shifting from men who have sex with men to addicts sharing needles.

Thus, the city on Canada’s west coast was a fitting locale for Insite, the first safe-injection site on the continent. Allowing people to use pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision could potentially reduce the harms associated with this type of drug use—namely, the risk of overdose and infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.


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