By Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM)

Intro

Canada is experiencing an overdose emergency, which killed over 21,000 people between 2016 and 2020. Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) are a core component of Canada’s overdose response.

Supervised consumption services (SCS) are health facilities where people consume drugs and are monitored by staff who provide education on harm reduction and provide emergency medical care for overdose.

SCS also distribute sterile drug use equipment and can act as a pathway to other health services. SCS are authorized by federal or provincial authorities, which protects staff and participants from being charged with possession of illegal drugs while on site.

About

WHY SCS is a project of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM). The WHY SCS team works with substance use researchers, people with lived and/or living experience of substance use, and healthcare providers to provide accurate information about supervised consumption services (SCS) in Canada.

As a result of the national overdose emergency, Canada has seen rapid scale-up of supervised consumption services (SCS) in the past four years, and the country is now home to 36 federally sanctioned services, with additional sites pending approval. Little research has examined the features or context of emerging SCS models. Additionally, despite concerns about overdose and other drug-related harm across Canada, implementation of SCS to date has been limited to just 5/13 provincial/territorial jurisdictions. The present implementation science project was designed to support further implementation and evaluation of SCS in Canada.

Our study includes four specific initiatives:

  1. The development of a national evidence-based guidance document with companion plain language resources targeting communities and service providers considering implementing SCS.
  2. The development of in-depth, mixed-method case studies of innovative service models.
  3. The creation and distribution of a national-level survey of SCS operators to characterize variation in SCS implementation across Canada.
  4. The collection of mixed-method data to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SCS use patterns and care provision to people who use drugs.

Outputs of these initiatives will provide prospective SCS operators with access to both technical guidance and knowledge translation products designed to enhance public and policymaker understanding of these services. In addition, this project will produce new knowledge on the state of SCS in Canada.