What’s the difference between a supervised consumption site and an overdose prevention site?

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Some communities across Canada are applying for a supervised consumption site or an overdose prevention site in light of the opioid and fentanyl crisis. But it turns out, there is quite a difference between them.

In light of the opioid and fentanyl crisis, supervised consumption sites (SCS) and overdose prevention sites (OPS) continue to be the topic of discussion in many communities across the country.

However, permanency and services offered at these sites is what separates them from one another.

To get a SCS or an OPS within a community, the facility looking to get one implemented — from public health agencies to organizations that work in addictions and harm reduction — needs to apply for an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which allows them to operate freely with out any repercussions from police.

Supervised consumption sites

A SCS is tailored to be a permanent site. Health Canada’s website has a list of cities in Canada that have a SCS, as well as cities in the process of getting one.

But the application process to Health Canada can be long, complex and take several years. The facility looking to set an SCS needs to conduct community surveys, consultations with community partners and have a location selected, among other steps.

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Once that application is completed, Health Canada grants a one year exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which allows staff to operate the site freely with out repercussions from the police.

When the exemption expires, Health Canada reviews the facility’s renewal application and can grant it another year or more, in some cases.

SCS are not limited to one type of consumption under their roof. Some sites will allow injection, oral or intranasal forms of consumption.

A SCS is required to have a network of support services at their sites for individuals, such as addiction treatment programs, counselling and support for permanent housing.

Supervised injection site

Waterloo region is in the process of implementing a supervised injection site (SIS), which is very similar

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