Correctional Service of Canada has now revealed that it is mulling over the installation of overdose prevention sites in prisons. According to a report by CBC, sanctioned areas may be installed inside of prisons, allowing opioid addicted inmates to safely inject drugs in the wake of a growing opioid crisis. Supervised injection sites in Canadian prisons may combat the spread of diseases that occur when prisoners who smuggle in drugs share needles.
Diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C are often spread through the sharing of unsterilized needles which are used regularly by addicts within the prison system. "At the very least, let's start opening up the sites so we can get away from the needle-in-the-cell thing," stated Jason Godin, president of the Union of Canadian Officers, who has long fought for the installation of overdose prevention sites.
According to CBC, Correctional Service of Canada "is in the early stages of exploring overdose prevention sites as another harm-reduction measure option for inmates."
In a separate press release, Health Minister Christine Elliot revealed that the government is also considering installing supervised injection sites outside of the prison system across Ontario. A new delivery model will be developed to help prevent future overdoses and assist addicts who are ready for treatment.
"We are elated by this news. We never doubted the efficacy of these services. In fact, the evidence is categorical that SIS and OPS save lives. Now that the government has made its decision, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and other health professionals can get on with the job of helping people that desperately need our help," explained Angela Cooper Brathwaite, President of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, where the conference was held.
There are currently 16 sites in Canada which offer people the ability to inject drugs under the supervision of nurses and other professionals who can provide them with sterile needles. Information about the dangers of overdosing alongside social support services are also offered at the sites.
Opioid-related deaths have risen drastically in recent years with 1,261 Ontarians dying from an overdose in 2017, a 45 percent jump from the 867 deaths in 2016, according to official government statistics.
"Despite the best efforts of dedicated health professionals, the death toll continues to rise. That's how unrelenting this crisis is. The only way to stem this tide of rising deaths is to ensure we have enough people and resources to reach those in need,” explained RNAO's CEO Doris Grinspun about the growing opioid epidemic.