Report says Alberta's supervised consumption sites have 100 per cent success rate reversing overdoses
Alberta’s six supervised consumption sites (SCS) have been used more than 300,000 times since opening in 2016 and no-one has died while doing so, according to a new report from the Alberta Community Council on HIV.
The report says staff has reversed 4,305 overdoses at the six sites, which marks a 100 per cent success rate.
"Supervised consumption services save lives," said Celeste Hayward, the executive director of the ACCH.
And of those who have used an SCS in Alberta, nearly 10,000 people have been referred to addiction and treatment services.
That’s compared to 2,183 people who have died from opioid overdoses in the province since 2016, with the 86 per cent of those involving accidental fentanyl overdoses.
There are six sites in Alberta, three in Edmonton and one each in Calgary, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge.
"The reson they're needed in community is because they're one part of this huge puzzle to address harm reduction," Hayward said.
"Human beings, regardless of what they're doing, are still human and still deserve access to health care services."
The UCP government has frozen funding for three future sites planned in Medicine Hat, Calgary, and Red Deer until a review is completed.
Two other approved sites, one at the Royal Alexandra and the other at Drumheller Federal Correctional facility, were not included in this report.
"This is a complex issue and an emotional one, too," said mental health and addictions associate minister Jason Luan in an interview with CTV News.
Luan expects the report to be completed and presented to the government at the end of 2019.
The report also notes a recent 24 per cent decline in fentanyl-related deaths in the province suggests that harm reduction strategies are working, “and their continued expansion into communities of need is a priority.”
Other findings from the report say men are more likely (77 per cent) to die of an opioid overdose than women, and the average age is 38-years-old.
Eighteen per cent of overdose victims were Indigenous, 41 per cent had previously served time in jail, and 83 per cent had a psychiatric condition.
Sixty-six per cent of deaths involved people who were using drugs alone at the time, 86 per cent lived in urban areas and 74 per cent of drugs were obtained illegally.
As part of the provincial review, in-person engagement sessions are planned in each city where a consumption site either already exists or is planned. Calgary's session is from 5-9 p.m. on September 11th and 12th at the BMO Centre.