Supervised drug consumption site opens in Lethbridge after spike in overdoses - InfoNews

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Supervised drug consumption site opens in Lethbridge after spike in overdoses

A supervised drug consumption site has opened in Lethbridge, Alta., after the city recorded more than 54 overdoses in recent weeks, some from what police are calling a potent batch of a dangerous street opioid. A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
March 01, 2018 - 1:10 PM

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - A supervised drug consumption site has opened in Lethbridge, Alta., after the city recorded more than 54 overdoses in recent weeks, some from what police are calling a potent batch of a dangerous street opioid.

The site is run by ARCHES, a community group that has been given approval to operate from Health Canada.

Executive Director Stacey Bourque says they couldn't open fast enough with drug overdoses spiking in the area since Feb. 19, including some suspected deaths.

Bourque says staff, including nurses, are prepared to administer naloxone to addicts and users to counteract overdoses of drugs such as fentanyl.

On Monday, Lethbridge police, emergency medical services and health officials issued a public warning due to the high number of overdoses, including 16 on Friday alone.

Police say paramedics had to administer higher dosages of naloxone in many of the cases.

Bourque says the drug causing the overdoses is being marketed as heroin but is likely fentanyl or perhaps carfentanil, a more toxic synthetic opioid.

"We have seen a huge spike," Bourque said Thursday. "It is a coloured powdered rock. We don't know what is in it but we know that it is obviously dropping people."

Officials are urging anyone who uses street drugs to be extra cautious and to never use drugs alone.

The supervised consumption site allows people to use drugs where they can be monitored and receive counselling.

Bourque said the recent overdose numbers in Lethbridge do not include overdoses that have been occurring at the nearby Blood Tribe. (Lethbridge News Now, The Canadian Press)

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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