The Outaouais at the confluence of overdoses

Spread the love

The Outaouais at the confluence of overdoses

Alexandre Albert, safe consumption coordinator at BRAS Outaouais, indicates that the trailer that serves as a supervised consumption site is not funded.

“We cry out from the heart every day to make [the government] stop watching the world die!

Alexandre Albert, consumption coordinator at BRAS Outaouais, is concerned about the increase in overdose cases in the Outaouais. Of the 1,258 overdose deaths that occurred between January 1, 2019 and July 9, 2022, 106 occurred in the Outaouais, according to data compiled by La Presse. This places the region in second place for fatal overdoses in Quebec, just after Nunavik.

Until September 2022, there were 36 fatal overdoses, compared to 39 deaths for the whole of 2021, laments Mr. Albert. It does not surprise us. We hear [about it], we see it, we prevent it here, fortunately, with the overdose prevention site.

Despite the sad record of the Outaouais, the trailer that serves as a supervised consumption center near Gîte Ami is not funded by the government, but rather kept at arm's length by the response team.

Alexandre Albert, Safe Drinking Coordinator for BRAS Outaouais, observed an increase in overdose deaths in the last years.

Every day, from 2 p.m. to midnight, consumers can come and chat with workers, get strips to test their drugs as well as clean equipment to consume more hygienically.

Unfortunately, a young woman died recently, outside the opening hours of the trailer. We would like to be able to offer a 24/7 overdose prevention site, but unfortunately, it is a question of funding. We must favor the busiest hours, explains Mr. Albert.

This situation is partly attributable to geography. Substances come from Toronto to Ottawa, then to us, but there are also those from Montreal. There are often cutting agents who are integrated with drugs on the way, notes the speaker.

Radio-Canada was able to visit the small trailer. 20 to 30 people use its services every day. All substances are at risk. We had the death of a person who overdosed on cocaine recently, explains Mr. Albert.

The trailer does not look like much. Inside, there is a small room for the speakers, and next to it, a folding table, a chair and the accessories intended for consumption. Stakeholders are responsible for preparing them and supporting consumers. Preventing overdoses is the beginning of many things, underlines Mr. Albert.

Kits like this are being distributed to consumers.

He explains that the supervision of drug addiction also allows the prevention of STBBIs and HIV. We have noticed that when people come to use with us, they decrease the amount they take per episode. We see that, when we have an overdose prevention site, we do not just administer naloxone, but also all the psychosocial follow-up with harm reduction techniques, adds the speaker.

Alexandre Albert notes that the economic context has brought new people to BRAS Outaouais, people who very often have their first experience of this kind. We have people who have lived in their homes for several years, elderly people [even runaway minors] who had just lost their homes due to renovations. They end up on the street, then go to the heat drop-off, which is not a pleasant environment for anyone, continues Mr. Albert.

“It's boring, but when you're on the street and you try to forget everything that's going on , all the sores, it's sure that you want to turn to consumption.

— Alexandre Albert, Safe Consumption Coordinator, BRAS Outaouais

The organization is short of people, according to the community worker. The community, unfortunately, is one of the places where salaries are the lowest. People often come here for training for one or two years, and then they are recruited by the CISSS Outaouais, the public service, and so on. We often lose quality speakers because of salaries that we cannot afford, laments Mr. Albert.

With information from Camille Kasisi-Monet

Previous Article
Next Article