An innovative program for preventing overdoses in Canada through the implementation of a supervised injection facility, also known as an overdose prevention site, an option that is not legally available in the United States
In response to the opioid crisis in Canada, and more specifically a spike in opioid-related overdose deaths in Ottawa, a program called “The Trailer” was established as a safe injection facility (SIF) to try to stem these deaths. This program is managed by Ottawa Inner City Health and sanctioned by the Canadian government.
The location of the SIF is strategically located in a concentrated area of drug use where treatment services and shelters are also present. The Trailer tracks services and collects data, provides quarterly reports to the provincial government, and provides an annual report to the Canadian government.
The program tracks several markers, including unique visits to the facility, self-reported types of drugs used, number of injections, incidences of overdoses, and observable health concerns such as abscesses. This is all done using a unique identifier to maintain the client anonymity.
Signs of overdoses are treated with oxygen, stimulation, and, if needed, naloxone. The program estimates that most clients use the SIF multiple times a day and inject 2-3 times per visit. The Trailer has noted that the SIF can be used as a surveillance system, where an increase in the number of overdoses suggests that a “bad batch” of drugs is on the streets.
The facility has seen an increase in the number of overdoses and attribute this to the increase in the presence of fentanyl. At peak capacity, there was sometimes a wait at the facility suggesting that the SIF was being utilized and may need to expand its capacity to meet the demand.