March 21st, 2019

Library Chat: Drug crisis series wrapping up March 18 at library

By Medicine Hat News on March 15, 2019.

There has been a lot in the news about plans to open a supervised consumption site in downtown Medicine Hat where people can use drugs in a monitored setting.

There are differing opinions on this initiative, with good reason: Many feel that ongoing deaths urgently require a response, while others are concerned about the health of their community, their businesses and their property values. Supervised consumption is, however, only one of several ways in which our community is dealing with this crisis. To provide residents with more information on this important topic, the library is hosting a three-part series called The Overdose Crisis: Our Community Responds.

Local agencies are following what is called the Four Pillars approach. This is the internationally recognized standard for mitigating the problems caused by drug use. The four pillars are Prevention, Harm Reduction, Recovery and Enforcement. Supervised consumption is part of the Harm Reduction pillar, along with needle exchanges and other tactics to reduce the damage caused by drug use. This is the response that has been getting all the attention, but other efforts are underway.

Last Monday, in Part 2 of our series, Medicine Hat Police Service officials spoke about enforcement and other police efforts. The police are actively investigating criminal activities, seizing illegal substances and otherwise working to disrupt the drug trade. They also realize and acknowledge that we can’t arrest our way out of this crisis, so they intervene with people in custody who might be ready to consider treatment or other options. The evening also highlighted Alberta Health Services education efforts aimed at preventing drug abuse.

Next Monday, we are hosting the third and final part of the series. The Medicine Hat Addictions Clinic will describe the options that are available for those ready to enter treatment, and the Medicine Hat Recovery Centre will explain harm reduction efforts. There will also be Naloxone overdose treatment training, displays and printed information, and lots of people from local agencies to talk to. The event will be held March 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the library theatre.

The Part 2 session described above, and Part 1 which featured an introduction to the overdose crisis and the personal experience of a mom who lost her son, were recorded and they are available on our Facebook page.

Ken Feser is chief librarian at Medicine Hat Public Library.

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