Sudbury

Réseau ACCESS Network builds mock safe consumption space

A Sudbury mother says she supports a group working to educate the public on the importance of a safe consumption and treatment site.

Group working to show the community how the site would work and prevent overdoses

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      A Sudbury mother says she supports a group working to educate the public on the importance of a safe consumption and treatment site.

      To mark the National Day of Action of The Overdose Crisis on Tuesday, Réseau ACCESS in Sudbury launched its mock safe injection space.

      "This is one way we're trying to advocate by showcasing the community what a space like this could look like," Lisa Toner, the community outreach coordinator with Réseau.

      Terry Jenkins says her son may still be alive is such a site existed in the community. Her son, Matthew, died two years ago from a heroin overdose.

      "For me, it's very personal," she said. "My son died while he was using with one other person who was using. The other gentleman passed out while my son overdosed."

      Jenkins says if her son had access to a safe consumption site, his life might have been saved if someone had been able to administer Naloxone.

      She says she acknowledges not everyone in the community agrees such a site is necessary.

      Terry Jenkins supports a safe consumption site in Sudbury. Her son died two years ago from a heroin overdose.

      "I know there are some people out there that say 'If they're going to be so stupid, let them die anyways.' How horrific is that? These were human beings," she said.

      According to Réseau ACCESS, at least 92 people have died from overdoses in Sudbury since 2016.

      What would a safe space look like?

      Réseau ACCESS set up the mock site in downtown Sudbury. If the group were to get funding to open a real site, those who want to consume drugs would be greeted in a welcome area. From there, they would be able to "choose the gear they need in order to safely consume the drugs they would use in a space like this," Toner said.

      She says the materials provided would be sterile and properly disposed of after use.

      Toner says the site could also offer a place for people to test their drugs before they use them. This would ensure the drugs aren't mixed with another substance. Also included would be materials to stop overdoses.

      "In a worst case scenario, the potential of injection or intranasal Naloxone could be used as well as calling 911," she said.

      Toner says the site would also offer access to treatment for those looking to get help with their addictions.

      Lisa Toner is the community outreach coordinator with Réseau ACCESS Network in Sudbury. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

      "It gives people who use drugs a place to be," she said.

      "It gives people who use drugs a connection to community members and … get referrals to other services they may be interested in being connected to."

      Currently, the community drug strategy through Public Health Sudbury & Districts is studying the need for a site as part of an application to the province for a licence for one.

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