A researcher at the University of Alberta says safe injection sites may be an important tool in the fight against opioid abuse.
Elaine Hyshka is with the School of Public Health, and she tells the Alberta Morning News, it’s important to get drug abusers connected to healthcare professionals.
“You can bring people who are injecting drugs out of back alleys, and off the streets, and bring them into a medical environment where they are treated with respect and their substance abuse problems are acknowledged,” Hyshka explains. “That’s the first step to getting people connected to other resources like housing, or addiction treatment, and a number of other services.”
She believes there also needs to be better social understanding about addiction and drug abuse.
“When we treat people humanely and with compassion, it’s much more likely to contribute to their recovery, than this sort of ‘tough on drugs, zero tolerance’ approach, which unfortunately just increases stigma and helps to alienate people further.”
Hyshka says she’d also like to see more public health surveillance, so they can get a strong handle on exactly how many people are misusing opioids, and how many people are at risk for overdose.
In just the first six months of 2016, 153 Albertans died of apparent fentanyl related drug overdoses. (scb)