Three supervised injections sites opened in Montreal Monday. Two of the sites are at fixed locations, while the third is a mobile unit — a first of its kind in Canada.
The Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) mobile site is fully contained within a vehicle and will operate during the night when the other fixed injection sites are closed — the sites will be open 12 hours a day.
Previously, drug users could go to places like Cactus, a drop-in site, where users could pick up clean needles — but they had to leave the premises to shoot up.
Now with the new injection sites, Cactus director Sandhia Vadlamudy said addicts can do it in a safe and protected environment. “If an overdose occurs we will be able to treat the person to help them stay alive.”
Clients have strict restrictions and precautions to help deal with the drug use, Vadlamudy said. ” It’s always one needle, one injection so there is no sharing.”
Cactus’s supervised injection site will have two nurses, five mental-health specialists and two peers on duty at all times during opening hours.
Cactus Montreal is located downtown on Sanguinet Street. The other fixed supervised site will be in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and it will be operated by community organization Dopamine.
“Finally it is here, it has been a long fight,” Guy-Piere Lévesque said.
Lévesque is a former heroin user and founder of Méta d’âme a group that aims to help opioid addicts. Lévesque has been fighting for supervised injection sites for over 15 years.
Opponents of these sites say they encourage drug use but Lévesque disagrees.
“It will ease on the population, having people go somewhere else, having a place to go use the drugs in a safe manner and not disturb the neighbours,” Lévesque said.