I’ve never been much of a detail person, consequently a lot of things go by me without my paying a lot of attention to them. With all the talk around Red Deer lately though, an article on the front page of the Oct. 2 Advocate did catch my eye. “OD prevention site opens.” After all the discussions about having one in Red Deer or not, now we finally have one; at least a temporary one for now. Much needed and none too soon was the way I was thinking as I read the article. The ATCO trailer came from Calgary where it was operated as a temporary drug consumption site.
What it is called was the one detail that got me thinking. An OD prevention site is a promising name, so much so in fact, it almost sounds political. A name that makes you think it is something more than what it really is. I know what the operators are attempting to achieve, and I applaud them for it, but the name would be more apt if they called it a drug consumption site, (which by the way it actually is), or at a stretch, a safe injection site.
I don’t want to come across as overly critical, but let me explain my reasoning. Where street drugs are concerned, there is no such thing as safe, nor is opening a place where users can consume without restraint preventative!
In an earlier article I had mentioned that a person living in North or South Red Deer is not going to walk all the way downtown to consume their drugs, and opening more than one is too heavy a cost for all.
I do believe though, that for the people using the facility, the supervision definitely could save lives, but it will not prevent ODs as much as they think. The headline almost suggests that it would, and nothing could be further from the truth.
If anyone is looking for suggestions, here is one that would really tell the tale. Of interest to all the citizens of this fair city would be the actual number that are prevented from overdosing, or the number of ODs that are responded to by first responders; no padded or flamboyant numbers, actual cases. Where did these OD’s take place; would they have otherwise been at a consumption Site? How many OD’s actually happen that do not result in death?
Armed with an accurate picture, those in leadership would be better able to get a grip on the most effective methods to deal with the issues and ways to set up an actual “prevention” system. One of the problems is that the AHS is very reluctant to divulge any info that could be critical to purposeful decision making at a municipal level. The information is there, you just have to use round about methods to access it, such as the actual cost and distribution numbers of Naloxone kits. I eventually found out the cost to Alberta via the CBC Investigators.
Currently many municipal governing bodies faced with making decisions are quick to hand the problem over to organizations who use inventive names to make an insurmountable situation seem totally achievable. History from around the world suggests otherwise, but still a fancy name seems to lead the decision makers to repeat the same methods without counting the results. On the street, insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over all the while expecting different results.
A project called by a name other than what it actually is, is deception pure and simple. Not that choosing such a name was necessarily or intentionally wrong, but I feel that more obvious reasoning should have gone into the choice.
It seems, once something becomes political, you really begin to ask the question… what’s in a name?
Chris Salomons is a Retired Red Deer Resident with a concern for the Downtrodden