People living with addictions in Saskatchewan will now have access to supplies that will reduce their exposure to injury and disease. A new program offering safer inhalation materials at 30 harm reduction sites, including six community based organizations, has been launched across the province beginning this week.
“Harm reduction strategies, such as this one, are an important part of the continuum of services of addressing problematic substance abuse,” says Dr. Peter Butt with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. “The provision of safer inhalation supplies reduces the risk of people who use drugs contracting HIV, hepatitis B and C and respiratory infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.”
In November 2018, the Saskatchewan Health Authority announced that it would be providing safer inhalation supplies through some community based organizations and Saskatchewan’s provincially-funded harm reduction sites. Those sites are now stocked and prepared to deliver the supplies to help those living with addictions to live safer and healthier lives.
Safer inhalation supplies include crack and crystal meth smoking materials such as pipes, screens and mouthpieces. Providing safe, appropriate supplies reduces the need to construct makeshift pipes. Makeshift pipes can increase the risk of injury such as burns, blisters, cuts or open sores, and can lead to the spread of disease.
“Providing safer inhalation supplies can also offer people who use drugs an alternative to injecting them,” says Dr. Butt.
Clients will also have access to education, testing and treatment for communicable diseases as well as referrals to health services, counselling and addictions services and other supports.
“Having community based organizations provide harm reduction services increases the number of people we are able to reach,” says Jason Mercredi, Executive Director of AIDS Saskatoon. “We are pleased to support making safer inhalation supplies available to those who need them to provide better, safer options and supports for people facing addictions issues.”
The province of Saskatchewan spends more than $46 million annually on a wide range of addictions services. For more information on safer inhalation supplies visit saskatchewan.ca/addictions.