In recent years, Ottawa has seen a significant increase in the city’s rate of opioid drug overdoses. According to a 2014 statistic, drug overdoses in Ottawa result in approximately 115 hospitalizations and 40 deaths per year (OPH).

The use of injection drugs can increase one’s risk of HIV and hepatitis C infection through the sharing of needles and other injecting equipment. People who inject drugs are 46 times more likely to get HIV than those who do not (Catie).

The harm reduction approach aims to reduce the harms associated with drug consumption; improve health; and connect people with health and social services (Health Canada).

Supervised consumption sites are one initiative of the harm reduction strategy, allowing for safe consumption in the presence of trained staff. Drug consumers have access to sterile harm reduction tools which prevents the likelihood of infection. Supervised consumption sites in Ottawa also provide referrals for supports related to addiction, detox programming, and opioid withdrawal (OPH). There are presently four supervised consumption sites in Ottawa, and they collectively received 20,433 visits between January and March of 2019 (OPH).

What can you do?

Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It is available to the general public and does not require a prescription. Information on how to receive a free take-home naloxone kit can be found here.

Naloxone training sessions hosted by MAX Ottawa, Capital Pride, and Ottawa Public Health will be held on the following days:

This article was written by Shanique Foster, Admin and Program Assistant.

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