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LETTER: Evidence shows supervised injection sites work

Resident who recently moved from Toronto to Barrie unaware of city's opioid crisis
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BarrieToday received the following letter regarding Barrie’s opioid crisis, which was chronicled in a recent eight-part series. We welcome letters to the editor at news@barrietoday.com. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication).

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Having just moved from Toronto to Barrie, I am pleasantly surprised at the quality and range of activities and services the area offers, and at the warmth and friendliness of the people I have come into contact with. It is a move that we have been very happy with.

Unfortunately, I was unaware of the extent of Barrie’s opioid crisis.
 
Recently, a flyer was dropped in our mailbox from our local MP. It was an attempt at checking the pulse of the community regarding a supervised injection site in the downtown area.
 
Apparently Barrie’s rate of of emergency department visits for overdoses is the third highest in the province among 26 cities with more than 100,000 residents.
 
This is a serious situation that requires effective action for the people struggling with addiction and for the overall quality of life for the larger community.
 
The flyer presented a biased and inaccurate view of supervised injection sites. I come from a health-care background. Rigorous, evidence-based research is what consumers demand when making decisions about their health care.
 
Whether we are looking at treatment for arthritis, cancer or any other health challenge that may come our way, we want to feel secure that our decision is based on sound research.
 
There is a lot of excellent research that supports the effectiveness of supervised injection sites. Across all the studies there are a number of evidence-based facts that are consistent.
 
Supervised injections sites reduce deaths, they reduce HIV transmission, they actually increase community safety and, most importantly, they provide individuals using the service an opportunity to talk with a health-care provider or counsellor about what options are available to them for treatment.
 
I live in the downtown area. During the holiday season, I came out of the dollar store on Dunlop to see a woman hanging out of the passenger side of a car. She was attempting to use a cellphone.
 
I say attempting because she was obviously very high, and having great difficulty using the phone. Painfully thin, sores around her mouth and down her arms, it was evident to me that if she obtained her next hit on the street, it could very well be her last.
 
As a community, we need to talk about how to effectively deal with this crisis. I know it’s a difficult subject to discuss, but don’t we want to take care of all of our residents and for our communities to be safe?
 
We can have both. We just need to look at the evidence to continue the dialogue.
 
Victoria Scott
Barrie

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