May – With the new CTS, let’s all show the community we care
Written by Comms Team, May 19, 2022
The tainted supply of opioids poses a real danger.
Work is well underway to prepare the Safe Consumption and Treatment Site (CTS) operated by FourCAST, to open on Simcoe Street soon.
Peterborough Public Health is proud to be a part of the work with the Peterborough Drug Strategy to bring this service to the community. This is a big step forward in our response to the drug poisoning crisis. Soon this life-saving service will begin helping hundreds of residents at risk of dying from a tainted supply of drugs on our streets.
So how will you react when you start hearing about clients using the CTS? Will you be relieved or upset? I appreciate that the drug poisoning crisis is a divisive issue in this community. It’s complicated. It’s emotional. Let’s start with the facts.
Around one in five Canadians have used substances that are illicit at some point in their lifetime. When we include using legal substances such as cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco the number the number is over four in five. Many people who use drugs do it just once to try or only occasionally.
The tainted street supply is dangerous for them. For those with an addiction, whose health condition drives them to use, that risk is constant. If street drugs were safe and regulated, like pharmaceuticals, and people knew what was in their drugs, we wouldn’t need the CTS. Nobody wants to use drugs that could kill them.
Addiction is common, affecting 21 per cent of Canadians, or six million people, in their lifetime. Most people with addiction have had trauma or experiences in life that drive them to self-manage pain and isolation through their addiction.
We need to recognize how common and difficult addiction is and much more support is needed to meet the growing need. Just as we don’t shame people with other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes from seeking support for their conditions, we shouldn’t do this for people with addiction.
With addiction, sometimes receiving care results in treatment and not using the substance any more, but often it does not. Just like heart disease and diabetes, the journey is long and we need to meet people where they are on their journey. We wouldn’t block a medicine or surgery that can help heart disease just because someone isn’t giving up smoking. This is a harm reduction approach to care. The CTS is a key harm reduction service.
The street drug supply is tainted — increasingly contaminated with stronger and deadlier substances like fentanyl. Can you imagine if you had to buy alcohol off the streets and didn’t know if you were getting near-beer or moonshine? That’s the daily struggle for people who use street drugs. The CTS is needed to reduce the harm of substance use, by providing a safe and welcoming setting to keep people alive when they encounter tainted drugs.
The CTS will show clients they matter, that our community cares, that the lives of people using drugs are worth saving, and that support is available to them. Even though substance use disorder is complex, for those who are ready it can be treated successfully. For those who aren’t, the CTS will help them to survive another day.
That’s where you come in. The community crisis we are facing with addiction and the tainted drug supply will only start changing when our community comes together to share compassion and kindness. Compassion isn’t limited to the staff of our new CTS. It’s our whole community’s responsibility. Only then can we begin to reverse the tide of this drug poisoning crisis.
The compassion and kindness you show can actually save lives, and will make our community safer and healthier for everyone.
Dr. Thomas Piggott is the medical officer of health and CEO at Peterborough Public Health. Learn more at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/about-us/medical-officer-of-health/.