Supervised injection services (or sites) provide a safe and clean environment for people to use their own drugs under the care of trained staff. In Ontario, supervised injection services must be integrated and offered alongside other health care services and supports including, first aid, client education, sharps disposal, access to sterile needles and other supplies, access to naloxone (medication to temporarily reverse an opioid overdoses); and referral to other services.
Supervised injection services are shown to benefit both clients using the services and the community in the following ways:
- Prevent fatal overdoses
- Help people access treatment for substance use and other health and social services
- Reduce sharing of needles and the spread of blood-borne infections including HIV and hepatitis C
- Reduce drug use in public area
- Reduce improper disposal of needles in public places
There are over 90 supervised injection services operating worldwide, including Canada. The first supervised injection services located in Canada opened in Vancouver in 2003. Since then, Toronto has received funding from the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for three supervised injection sites and Ottawa has received funding from them for one site. Hamilton, London and Thunder Bay are at various points in the process for requesting exemptions to establish supervised injection services.
What else is being done to prevent overdoses in the community?
In Waterloo Region, a number of organizations including Public Health are involved with providing overdose response services such as naloxone distribution, health teaching with people who use drugs on strategies to prevent overdose or overdose deaths, public education and awareness about the signs of overdose and what to do if an overdose is witnessed, and community overdose monitoring and reporting. The Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy, along with Region of Waterloo Public Health, ensure services are coordinated and responsive to local needs.