Metro Morning

Etobicoke clinic welcomes arrival of safe injection sites

Clients of LAMP Community Health Centre say new strategy will save lives

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Social worker Sarah Greig, co-ordinator of harm reduction at the LAMP Community Health Centre in Toronto, bottom right, poses with some of the clinic's clients. Clockwise from top: Warren Chalmers, Crystal Gibson, Sarah Greig and Anne Atkins. (Mary Wiens/CBC)

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Intravenous drug users live without much of a safety net, so this week, many of them are welcoming the news that Toronto may soon have three safe injection drug sites.

It's a first for people in this city used to living outside the law, and outside the bounds of Canada's healthcare system.

Metro Morning's Mary Wiens spoke to three drug users and a healthcare worker at Etobicoke's LAMP community centre about what a difference a safe injection site could make. 

Harm reduction workers like LAMP's Sarah Greig teach drug users to look after one another. She tells her staff the most important thing they can do is make people who come here feel that they matter. 

"A lot of people don't feel like they're worthy of anything else," she said. 

Safe Injection 6:46

Many drug users won't call 911 for fear of being arrested, and are reluctant to go to hospitals because they feel like pariahs. 

Anne Atkins uses drugs and says one of her acquaintances died injecting drugs in a laundry room — the person with him fled when his friend began to go under.

"They panicked or something  and they took off on him. Instead of calling 911, you know, reporting what's going on, they didn't. He ended up passing on," she said. 

"He hit his head on a washing machine. Internal bleeding on top of an overdose."

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Needles, rubber gloves and other supplies intended for intravenous drug users line the shelves at the LAMP Community Health Centre in Etobicoke. (Mary Wiens/CBC)

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