Supervised consumption services study: Understanding the need, assessing the potential

Substance misuse impacts everyone. The Community Drug Strategy (CDS) is launching a study to explore if supervised consumption services could help address some of the drug issues in Greater Sudbury.

“This study will help us understand the current needs of people who use drugs, the needs of our community, as well as the impact of drug misuse in our community,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer, Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Along with Greater Sudbury Police Services Chief, Paul Pedersen, Dr. Sutcliffe co-chairs the Executive Committee of the CDS.

Supervised consumption services have been shown to reduce overdoses, infections, and deaths related to drug misuse. The Community Drug Strategy is seeking community input to help make informed decisions about providing safe and meaningful services for people who use drugs.

“The findings will be used to determine the degree of need for supervised consumption services, as well as the ideal conditions under which services could operate in Greater Sudbury. It is an essential step in applying for a federal exemption to operate these services,” said Chief Paul Pedersen, Greater Sudbury Police Service.

The Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study (NAFS) will be overseen by the Community Drug Strategy for the City of Greater Sudbury. The Study is led by Dr. Patrick Oghene, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and his research team. The study includes three parts:

  • In-person interviews with people who inject drugs
    The research team is conducting in-person interviews with people who inject drugs and is encouraging people to participate by contacting Dr. Patrick Oghene at 705.988.1011 or ooghene@nosm.ca.
  • Community online survey
    Anyone over the age of 16 and living in Greater Sudbury can complete an online survey to share their view on supervised consumption services at phsd.ca/cds.
  • Focus groups
    Focus groups with a variety of people who live, work, and offer services in Greater Sudbury will take place in the fall of 2019. More information on participant recruitment will be available in late summer.

The NAFS is anticipated to be complete by the spring of 2020. At that time, the CDS will share the findings with our community and make decisions about next steps.

In Ontario, supervised consumption services are referred to as Consumption and Treatment Services and the application process to operate them safely and legally is robust. The CDS will use the data collected throughout the study to make evidence-informed decisions about whether there is supporting evidence to proceed with an application. This takes time and requires community participation to ensure that resources and services proposed are consistent with real needs.

“We are asking our community to share their thoughts about supervised consumption services to be able to make informed decisions that will help the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Dr. Ariella Zbar, Associate Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

In addition to the study, the Community Drug Strategy continues to engage in work that is improving the health, safety, and well-being of all individuals in Greater Sudbury. This includes educating and raising awareness for all community members about the harms related to substance misuse, increasing access to programs that support harm reduction practices, increasing the distribution of naloxone in our community, and providing support and treatment to individuals who are seeking to improve their health.

Quick facts

  • People who misuse substances come from all walks of life. Drug misuse affects everyone and is not limited to certain locations, ethnicities, genders, ages or social classes.
  • In the Public Health Sudbury & Districts service area:
    • Opioid-related deaths increased from 17 in 2016 to 34 in 2017.
    • More current data from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario identified 32 opioid-related deaths in 2018 among residents of Sudbury and districts.
    • 86 emergency department visits were due to suspected opioid-related overdoses (2017).
  • Supervised consumption services are controlled spaces where people can consume drugs under the supervision of trained staff in a clean and safe environment.
  • People who use the services can also receive basic medical care and referrals to other health and social services.
  • Supervised consumption services are legal in Canada with federal government approval.
  • Supervised consumption services do not provide drugs to people.

For more information about the Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study for Supervised Consumption Services in Greater Sudbury, please contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200, ext. 278 (toll-free) 1.866.522.9200, or visit phsd.ca/cds.

The Community Drug Strategy for the City of Greater Sudbury represents more than 25 community partners from community agencies including health, social services, education, police, justice, and emergency services. The partnership envisions a community working together to improve the health, safety, and well-being of all individuals, families, neighbourhoods and communities in Greater Sudbury by creating a society increasingly free of the range of harms associated with substance misuse.

This item was last modified on June 26, 2019