It was only about a month ago when the Middlesex-London Health Unit announced the location of a new temporary overdose prevention site (TOPS) and now it’s here.
TOPS will be operating for six months at 186 King Street. XFM News took a tour Monday evening after the conclusion of the site’s first day of business.
Sonja Burke, Director of Counterpoint Reduction Services at the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection says although their first day was slow, four individuals came in to the site.
“Individuals who are struggling with addiction are just as afraid of this as other people are. I think it’s about understanding that slow steady word of mouth will make the difference. Those four people will tell four more people and four more and four more because the experience is a positive experience.”
Burke says their clients are their strongest ambassadors and through them their services will be spread through word of mouth.
“Our clients are our teachers and they make the difference because they are very much a part of this service.”
Although Burke adds that individuals who access services are still afraid of potential protestors, there were no push backs from concerned citizens, “I think that’s a really wonderful thing that’s happening that our community is wrapping around individuals to provide support, so time will tell.”
On the other hand, for those who are against the temporary overdose prevention site, Dr. Chris Mackie abruptly responded with, “I don’t have a lot of time for people who don’t respect human life. We’re about keeping people alive so that they have a chance to get into detox or rehab. So that they have a chance to access resources and have a chance to move on with their lives.”
The temporary overdose prevention site is imbedded within the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection; which is also one of the sites of the Counterpoint Needle and Syringe Program and is already familiar for people who inject drugs. The site operates Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.