An independent expert committee appointed by the provincial government of Alberta reviewed the social and economic impacts of current and proposed supervised consumption services (SCS), releasing their final report on March 5, 2020. Not surprisingly, stakeholder feedback on the socioeconomic impact was predominantly negative. Here are the main findings from the report:
- Social disorder increased in the areas surrounding SCS sites.
- Crime, as measured by police calls for service, increased in the immediate vicinity of SCS sites.
- SCS sites provided a reliable, fixed customer base for local dealers, leading to more drug trafficking and use.
- There were increased numbers of discarded syringes, crack pipes, and other forms of drug paraphernalia in the surrounding areas.
- Death rates and opioid-related calls for emergency medical services increased in the vicinity of the SCS sites.
- Minor (non-life-threatening) adverse events were routinely reported as overdoses by SCS staff, even when the response was a simple administration of oxygen. This was done to give the false impression that SCS sites were effective in saving lives by reversing or preventing fatal overdoses.
- Use of non-opioid drugs such as methamphetamine increased at the sites, leaving surrounding residents feeling unsafe due to the erratic and aggressive behavior of SCS clients.
- There were reports of SCS staff introducing non-injection users to injection practices.
- There was a glaring lack of focus on referrals to detoxification and treatment resources for SCS clients.
These results confirm what we have long suspected and vindicate the results of a previous study by May and colleagues that found that supervised consumption services had a negligible impact on overdose deaths and syringe sharing while leading to an increase in drug-related crime in the surrounding community. In an almost unprecedented fashion, May and colleagues’ study was later retracted, no doubt in response to mounting pressure from a powerful pro-drug lobby that counts many influential academics among its ranks. With the release of this latest report from the provincial government of Alberta, the truth can no longer be denied nor suppressed. It is time to finally put this disastrous experiment to rest. Supervised consumption services are an affront to human dignity. True compassion lies not in facilitating injection drug use–the worst form of chemical slavery–but in providing the means and resources for the addicted to break free of their shackles.