Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy call on government to support supervised consumption services
EDMONTON — Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy are disheartened by the potential changes coming to supervised consumption services (SCS) in our province, and are standing in solidarity today in support of these life-saving and evidence-based services. Today, more than 25 organizations from across the province and abroad are releasing a joint statement, calling on the government to commit to supporting SCS, and the organizations that provide it.
Support for these services is broad and grassroots in nature. Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy is a coalition of peers, professionals, advocates, and people who have lost loved ones to the overdose crisis in Alberta. People across this province are coming together to ask our government to consider the ethical and pragmatic approach to this overdose crisis.
In recent months, the narrative surrounding SCS has seen a dramatic shift in tone. Our government has vilified these services with misinformed vitriol meant to incite disdain for both supporters and clients alike, and has further entrenched a false dichotomy that regrettably pits the treatment/recovery and harm reduction communities against one another.
“At the end of the day, this is about ensuring that every Albertan has access to the care they need, when they need it,” says Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Rather than trying to divide Albertans, this government should be focusing on supporting and expanding this proven strategy that has already saved the lives of thousands of people across this province.”
Our province continues to suffer a significant and disproportionate number of overdose deaths. These are not mere statistics; they are our loved ones. Many of our members are here representing those who can no longer represent themselves. The bereaved are here today to ask that no one else be forced to experience the trauma of losing their loved one to a preventable overdose death.
“People who access SCS are our loved ones, and knowing that they are safe, are supported by caring and compassionate staff and can access much-needed services, including treatment, means the world for us as families,” says Petra Schulz, leader and co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm. “Many members of the Moms Stop the Harm community have lost loved ones in unsafe places, such as LRT trains, public washrooms, parked cars, stairwells, and back alleys. The thought of the people we love being told that they need to go back to using in these unsafe places is heartbreaking and unacceptable.”
Our group is non-partisan, and as such, not here to further politicize this crisis. We are not here today to minimize the concerns of others—there is room for growth and innovation in SCS that can help everyone feel safer, happier, and healthier. But one thing that is certain: SCS is effective in its design and purpose. Defunding, disrupting, or restricting these services will only increase harms for individuals and communities alike.
“SCS not only save lives, these services are cost-effective through disease prevention and reduced access to emergency services.” says Rosalind Davis, co-founder of Change the Face of Addiction. “There isn’t a one size fits all approach, and a simple cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that SCS are a necessary part of the continuum of care. Expanding these services would be the fiscally responsible strategy for the government to take.”
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Enclosure: Joint statement from Albertans for Ethical Drug Policy