Toronto harm reduction advocates call for more frontline worker supports, drug regulation

From the CJRU 1280AM radio show

Toronto harm reduction workers magnify the need for additional supports in their roles and for a regulated, less toxic drug supply

Juno Zavitz, program coordinator of Breakaway Community Services’ grief, loss, and wellness initiative (GLoW) discusses additional support for harm reduction workers.

Haley Thompson, project manager of Toronto’s Drug Checking Service, highlights policy-related barriers to harm reduction present in the city. Last episode we heard that drug checking revealed high levels of contamination in the unregulated drug supply. Contamination refers to the addition of a drug to the original substance that drug using people do not expect to be present. The program informs those drug using people who submit samples what is in their drugs and alerts clinicians who treat drug using patients to potentially harmful substances in the drug supply.

Thompson calls on the need for regulation and decriminalization of the unregulated drug supply to combat the opioid poisoning crisis.

“There are a few safer supply programs popping up across the country but they tend to have rather stringent eligibility criteria. We’re supportive of the decriminalization of drugs for personal use because it separates drug use from criminality. But it’s definitely not sufficient because it does nothing to address the toxic drug crisis or the toxic drug supply, which is what we know is harming people,” says Thompson.

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