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Supervised consumption sites save lives says study out of the U of A

Last Updated Jun 7, 2021 at 8:44 pm MDT

EDMONTON — “We observed the correlation between consumption site visits, to the number of people that go in and use them and overdose deaths in the province.”

Doctoral Candidate Tyler Marshall ran the study. He found that during the pandemic, fewer people used the supervised injection sites, leading to more deaths.

“The overdoses went up 118 per cent which is tragic and severe. And the visits to these sites decreased 64 per cent,” said Marshall.

Marshall says even with just one person supervising a person using drugs, the risk of death decreases substantially, and even more so in the presence of a health professional who knows how to manage an overdose at one of these sites.

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“In fact, no one has ever died in Alberta at all (of these consumption sites) and hundreds of thousands of visits have been made to supervised consumption services.”

One consumption site advocate says he’s been speaking out about the pros of these sites for years and hopes the study done by the University of Alberta is heard loud and clear by officials.

“It’s getting really frustrating, we’re the only province where we can’t get free fentanyl test kits and things like that, so now we have to move the politicians and this study at U of A is fantastic,” said Cameron Noyes.

In Edmonton, there are currently 3 supervised consumption sites available to those who choose to use them. While in Calgary, there is just one location, at the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre, which is set to close and have its services moved to more “appropriate locations.”