By Meghan Potkins

A facility in Lethbridge will become North America’s first supervised inhalation site when it opens early next year amid a drug death epidemic that has devastated families across the province.

ARCHES is the only organization or health board in the country, so far, to be granted approval by Health Canada for a site that will permit all four modes of drug consumption: injection, oral, intranasal and inhalation.

The approval allows drug users to smoke drugs like methamphetamine (crystal meth), as well as crack cocaine and heroin in specially ventilated rooms at the site. 

“People are not just dying from injecting — they’re dying from snorting, taking pills orally and they’re also dying from smoking,” says ARCHES executive director Stacey Bourque.

“So it was really important of us to address all four modes of consumption, not just injection.”