Safer Opioid Supply programs are now an established, evidence-based approach, part of a continuum of options for people who use opiates and opioids. Through these programs, people using contaminated opioid supply have access to pharmaceutical-grade opioids, as well as increased access to and engagement with healthcare and social services.
At South Riverdale Community Health Centre, an interdisciplinary team of health and social service workers offers comprehensive community-based care and programming. Part of a Downtown East collaboration with Regent Park CHC and Street Health, the SRCHC team consists of two nurse practitioners, a registered nurse, a community health worker and a manager.
Recent evaluation findings add to growing support for an increase in community-based, harm reduction approaches to safer opioid supply programming. People who use such programs report improvement in their wellbeing, including improved quality of life, increased stability, decreased criminalization and stigmatization, better health, fewer overdose events, reduced emergency hospital visits and greater social inclusion. The program also offers other social support such as referrals for housing, counselling and crisis assistance. As well, people using safer supply decrease their reliance on a contaminated street drug supply, increase their use of safer-use practices, and engage in health care and social services.
Nationwide advocacy for greater access, decriminalization and legalization is part of the teams’ focus. As well, building capacity, benefitting from the expertise of our DEC team, ensures that other health and social service providers have a greater opportunity to learn about SOS programming.