We have to keep people alive before we can help them fight addiction (BC-Cfe)

To those uninitiated in the global fight against the opioid crisis, the idea of delivering safe opioids through vending machines might sound ridiculous, counterintuitive and even dangerous.

The idea was raised late last year by Dr. Mark Tyndall, executive medical director of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, who suggested that machines could dispense pills at supportive housing facilities or supervised consumption sites.

I was born and raised in British Columbia, where I have seen firsthand the impact of harm reduction efforts. The work of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (where, full disclosure, I completed my PhD) and other organizations have demonstrated again and again that harm reduction saves lives. The opening of Insite, Vancouver's supervised injection facility, has resulted in dramatically fewer overdoses — a 35 per cent drop in fatal overdoses in the Downtown Eastside.

By Luke Swenson 

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