Many London organizations are supporting the temporary anti-overdose site located downtown at 186 King Street.
This is the city’s first overdose prevention site which shares a space with Regional HIV/AIDS Connection. Drug users can bring and use their drugs while trained professionals are present as well as community resources, such as treatment supports and naloxone kits.
Support your supports
Opioid overdose is the second leading cause of death in Ontario, it used to be car accidents. Frontliner Blair Henry is out on site with HIV/AIDS Connection because he says there is no recovery in death.
“As a former substance user, I saw the devastation and the effects. I was fortunate that I had people and services around to support me, and now 25 years since I’ve last used substances I’m now able to give back and support that community because I know there is a way through this,” explains Blair Henry, Harm Reduction Case Manager at HIV/AIDS Connection.
Sonja Burke, Director of Harm Reduction Services at HIV/AIDS Connection, notes this site is being implemented because we need a new system to find answers. “What’s important to us is that we support the community and its efforts to acknowledge that this drug issue is a health care issue and we all need to be part of the solution.”
Londoner Wendy Fields is a former addictions counsellor who strongly supports the overdose prevention site downtown. When she was still practicing it was crystal meth that was big, opioids were only beginning.
“The people that are using are people. They’re not addicts by choice. I’m in recovery myself, I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘I’m going to be an alcoholic.’ These people haven’t chosen this lifestyle and it’s so sad they are on the streets,” explains Londoner Wendy Fields.
According to the Free Press, City Councillor Tanya Park, whose ward includes the overdose prevention site, the rest of the London community seems to be understanding of its purpose.
Ontario’s Drug Use High School survey found that 33% of teens are offered drugs, 14% of which are in school settings. The study finds teens are smoking less marijuana but are more likely to try fentanyl. About 17% reported self-use through prescription drugs in some way of abuse, which is a big component of the culture that police are informing parents about as a preventative measure.
“Take a look at your medicine cabinet, if you have expired medication it’s best to get rid of that or take it to the pharmacy. It’s always about communication. Talk with your kids. Spend time with them. Get to know the signs and symptoms, get to know if their behaviour is becoming a bit erratic. It’s all about making sure you have those lines of communication so that if you do observe that something is off then you have the chance to intervene,” says Detective Constable Chris Auger, OPP Drug Enforcement.
If you have a loved one who is, or you suspect is using opioids keep a naloxone kit around because it does have the power to reverse the effects of an overdose. They are free with an OHIP card at local pharmacies.
There are different types of recovery programs, as one might not work for everyone. “There is methadone, that’s more down the medication line. Or, if people want therapy day programs those exist. Is it just addiction, or is it addiction and mental health? So, there’s programs that connect both those components,” explains Shaya Dhinsa from Middlesex-London Health Unit.
The police are aware they cannot arrest out this situation—the community has come together to form a giant support system to find a solution through observing the supervised drug facility on King Street.
If you have questions about opioids and/or naloxone you can contact any of the following local organizations for help, support and information:
- Mission Services London
- Addiction Services of Thames Valley
- London Cares
- Regional HIV/AIDS Connection
- Middlesex-London Health Unit
- London Police Services