Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jul 2004
Source: Red Deer Express (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 Red Deer Express
Author: Mark Weber
Cited: Central Alberta AIDS Network Society
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (needle drop)


Red Deer's downtown core is a safer place with used needle drop-off boxes 
proving popular with addicts, officials say.

To date, nearly 250 needles have been dropped off in two drop boxes, 
located on the north side of the Arlington Hotel and near the corner of 47 
Avenue and 48 Street.

The Central Alberta AIDS Network Society (CAANS) launched the project in May.

"I'm excited that people here have been so supportive," said Lindsay Young, 
a harm reduction coordinator for the Society.

Young said she had no idea at first how much users would utilize the boxes 
- -- major harm reduction tools in Calgary and Edmonton.

And while 250 may seem high, she said it's important to remember the boxes 
are the only 24-hour safe drop mechanism for all of Central Alberta.

Young was one of several panelists at an addictions forum Tuesday at Red 
Deer College.

Each agreed the best means to treat addiction and its fallout is through a 
coordinated agency approach.

Stacey Carmichael, chair of the Safe Harbour Society board, said $750,000 
in annual funding through AADAC is in place to operate a 20-bed detox 
centre and a 20-bed shelter in Red Deer.

Capital funds are still needed to either renovate a building or construct a 
new facility, she said.

A request for proposals has gone out to the community.

Wendy Klassen, a facilitator with the city's social planning department, 
said the forum's purpose was to show how approachable agencies are.

"There's intense coordination and communication going on to build these 
services, and build them well."

Encouraging frank talk about addictions is also vital, she said.

"A healthy community acknowledges its problems and works for healthy 

Young agreed.

"It's important to talk about it more so people feel confident to go out 
and access services," she said. "If we're going to make our neighbours 
unashamed to get help, we have to change our attitudes about addiction."
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MAP posted-by: Thunder