Impact of overdose prevention sites during a public health emergency in Victoria, Canada




Pauly, Bernie
Wallace, Bruce
Pagan, Flora
Phillips, Jack
Wilson, Mark
Hobbs, Heather
Connolly, Joann

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PLoS One


The primary objective of this study was to examine the impacts associated with implementation of overdose preventions sites (OPSs) in Victoria, Canada during a declared provincial public health overdose emergency. A rapid case study design was employed with three OPSs constituting the cases. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 15 staff, including experiential staff, and 12 service users. Theoretically, we were informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. This framework, combined with a case study design, is well suited for generating insight into the impacts of an intervention. Zero deaths were identified as a key impact and indicator of success. The implementation of OPSs increased opportunities for early intervention in the event of an overdose, reducing trauma for staff and service users, and facilitated organizational transitions from provision of safer supplies to safer spaces. Providing a safer space meant drug use no longer needed to be concealed, with the effect of mitigating drug related stigma and facilitating a shift from shame and blame to increasing trust and development of relationships with increased opportunities to provide connections to other services. These impacts were achieved with few new resources highlighting the commitment of agencies and harm reduction workers, particularly those with lived experience, in achieving beneficial impacts. Although mitigating harms of overdose, OPSs do not address the root problem of an unsafe drug supply. OPSs are important life-saving interventions, but more is needed to address the current contamination of the illicit drug supply including provision of a safer supply.




Pauly, B., Wallace, B., Pagan, F., Phillips, J., Wilson, M., Hobbs, H., & Connolly, J. (2020). Impact of overdose prevention sites during a public health emergency in Victoria, Canada. PLoS One, 15(5), 1-14.