We asked 3 people in recovery from drugs what they think about SafePoint. Here's what they said

Three people recovering from substance use said Windsor's first ever drug consumption and treatment site, SafePoint, is good to have in the community, but they question whether it's convenient enough to be used. 

SafePoint opened for the first time Wednesday

A building with a sign that reads, 'SafePoint.'
SafePoint opened Wednesday for the first time. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare did not comment on how the first day went or how many people used the site. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Three people recovering from substance use said Windsor's first drug consumption and treatment site, SafePoint, is good to have in the community, but they question how convenient it is. 

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., SafePoint, which is located at 101 Wyandotte St. E., officially opened its doors to the community. It's taken seven years for the site to become a reality due to delays from red tape, political opposition, COVID-19 and community pushback. 

With the opening of the site, CBC News spoke with three people who are in recovery from opioid use. They shared their stories of addiction and thoughts on SafePoint. 

Meet Angus: He's 6 months sober

Angus, 48, has used substances, specifically cocaine and opioids, for more than 20 years. 

CBC News has agreed to not use his last name or face as he worries about getting a job or home in the future. 

Angus said he started using drugs in his teens as it was a lifestyle that he found fun and harmless. But a few years in, he said it turned into a full-blown addiction and soon, he found it hard to keep a job or relationships. 

"It got its hooks in me to where I just wanted more," he said of his addiction. 

WATCH: Angus talks about how he started using drugs

Angus shares his 20-year battle with addiction

5 months ago
Duration 1:57
He describes how he started using drugs because he liked the lifestyle around it, but how the substances quickly consumed his life.

In 2012, he moved to Windsor and completed a three-month rehab program at Brentwood — an addictions recovery home. 

But within about two weeks of getting out, Angus said he quickly relapsed and spent the next decade using substances in Windsor. During that time he got involved in crime, would end up in jail and would struggle to break his addiction. 

He said he saw when opioids started becoming the drug of choice on the streets, and how the substance was easily killing people. 

"Narcan wasn't out when it first came around, so it was a lot easier for people to die and it was taking seasoned vets in the drug world and they were going down, a whole wave of people dying from it," he said. 

Over the past six years, he said he repeatedly overdosed and saw others do the same. 

"I've been lucky, I've always been around people that I guess cared enough to Narcan me. So I've saved countless people the same way," he said.

"I've been very lucky I can't count how many times I've been basically dead." 

He's now six months sober and said it was challenging to get to this point, but he was tired of the life he was living. 

When it comes to SafePoint, Angus said he'd never used in a drug consumption and treatment site before, but that if it will save at least one life, then it's worth it. 

He said if he was still using, he would likely go to check it out and then decide whether it was a place he wanted to go back to. 

"I never really wanted to die out there, so maybe I would [use SafePoint] knowing that I'd at least be safe using," he said. 

"It's no big solution, but it's definitely a temporary reprieve for people maybe to live longer to hopefully maybe get to the point of wanting to change how they're living." 

Meet Chris: He says drugs shut out the real world

Chris, 30, is from Chatham, Ont., and used substances for the past 10 years. 

CBC News has agreed to not use his last name as he worries about getting future opportunities. 

He's about 10 months sober and is focused on rebuilding his life. 

When he started using substances, like fentanyl, he said it was driven by a desire to fit in. 

"Most of the people around me had used hard drugs or drank a lot, it seemed like an easy way to be involved with everybody," he said. 

"The first time I used, it shut the real world out I guess." 

Throughout his addiction, Chris said he tried to get clean a few times, but he'd constantly relapse and eventually ended up homeless. 

WATCH: Chris says he couldn't break out of the cycle of addiction

Chris says he kept hitting 'rock bottom'

5 months ago
Duration 2:03
Throughout his 20s, Chris struggled with addiction and went through a cycle of going through recovery and then relapsing.

Looking back, he said it's "hard to believe" what he went through and how his life has changed in the last few months. 

While Chris has never used a drug consumption site, he said it shouldn't take seven years to get the proper resources to help people struggling with addiction. He worries about the convenience of it. 

"If it's on the other side of town, I don't see myself walking to a safe injection site to use, I would honestly probably still go to a washroom somewhere. If there was a lot of them, they were convenient, that's another story," he said. 

Meet Greg: He used a supervised drug site in Kitchener 

For Greg, 43, an addiction to fentanyl started around the time the pandemic began. 

CBC News has agreed to not use his last name or face as he worries about future job opportunities. 

He said that his addiction began after he was prescribed fentanyl patches following surgery. Greg said he started abusing the medication and quickly became addicted. 

"You're like in a black hole," said Greg, who is from Brantford, but was living in Kitchener during his active addiction. 

In the years that followed, he said he got involved in organized crime just to fund his addiction. 

The first time he overdosed on fentanyl was part of what led him to recovery. 

The back of a man's head is in the foreground and then a woman sits staring at the camera in the background.
Greg spoke with CBC's Jennifer La Grassa about how his addiction started from prescription medication. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

"There was six Narcans beside me and I couldn't stand up, they had to CPR me, there was puke all over the place, I had no shirt on and I couldn't even get up, I overdosed and I was completely dead," he said of the experience. 

After landing in hospital, he was sent to a recovery program in Windsor. 

"It can happen to anybody, childhood trauma or just bad medication or not proper guidance or you know a lot of people have a lot of demons they need to escape with drugs, but it can happen for different reasons with anybody," he said. 

Greg said he during his active addiction, he used a drug consumption site in Kitchener. 

He said he thinks it's good that the community has SafePoint, adding that it will help people get clean needles or foils. 

"I don't really think it's enabling because they'd probably use something dirty, if they didn't have anything clean," he said, noting it will keep people from getting HIV or Hepatitis C. 

But he added that "drugs don't stop ... at 6 p.m." and so he worries that without overnight hours, SafePoint is only giving people a temporary sense of safety. 

SafePoint, temporarily located at 101 Wyandotte St. E., is open Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's being run by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare. 


Jennifer La Grassa


Jennifer La Grassa is a videojournalist at CBC Windsor. She is particularly interested in reporting on healthcare stories. Have a news tip? Email