Pubdate: Sat, 09 Dec 2017
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Elliot Ferguson
Page: A1


Currently, some of the city's drug users have set up supervised sites
in their own homes

Contamination of the street drug supply with substances such as
fentanyl has forced some of the city's drug users to set up their own
supervised consumption sites in their homes.

The agency that works most closely with drug users says the home sites
indicate that Kingston needs a formal, government-sanctioned
consumption site.

"We definitely know there is a need because we are aware of people
using their homes right now as safer places to use," said Dr. Meredith
MacKenzie, a physician for Kingston Community Health Centres' Street
Health Centre who described a home site as a "not perfectly safe, but
safer, environment to use in."

"They've just done what they had to do in response to safety

"I'm not convinced they want to do this in their homes," MacKenzie
added. "I think they would want something more formalized as well. "I
think the advent of drug contamination and then these very potent
fentanyl analogs that are in our community, people have had to be
responsive to that. This is their response; this is how people are
being safer."

On Thursday, the provincial government announced additional responses
to the opioid crisis, including asking permission under a new federal
government policy to allow setting up formal, temporary
overdose-prevention sites.

MacKenzie said progress on the opioid crisis will only be possible if
it is seen as a health issue rather than a criminal matter.

"I think when you shift the conversation and you look at drug use as a
medical problem rather than considering it criminal, my hope is that
alone will change people's opinions on whether we need supervised
consumption sites," she said.

More than a month ago, city council voted, after some delay, to
distribute naloxone kits in city-owned and administrated facilities.

The day after council voted, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and
Addington Public Health expanded its access program for naloxone.

"Definitely it is an evidence informed intervention," Dr. Fareen
Karachiwalla, public health's associate medical officer of health,
said. "It does more than just save lives."

Karachiwalla said more than 75 studies have shown the benefits of safe
consumption sites for drug users.

Both MacKenzie and Karachiwalla said plans for a safe consumption site
in Kingston are in the very early stages and community consultation
will have to happen before anything gets set up.

Until then, Street Health has been training people involved with the
drug scene how to use naloxone, which counters the effects of a
fentanyl overdose.

Since the Street Health Opioid Overdose Prevention Program started in
September 2015, nearly 2,000 naloxone kits have been handed out and
more than 4,000 community members have been trained how to use them.

In many cases, MacKenzie said, the people trained and equipped with
naloxone post their certificate on their apartment doors so other
people in their building know they can get a naloxone kit there.

Since 2015, 173 overdoses have been reversed using

"Most people who are using heroin are well aware of the contamination
risks and I think the home supervised consumption sites are a response
to that," MacKenzie said. "I can't tell you the last time I saw
someone who is using heroin that doesn't have fentanyl in it. It's
been months."
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