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Safe consumption site says Lethbridge parents would have more to worry about if it didn’t exist

Click to play video: 'Safe consumption site supporters says Lethbridge parents would worry more if service didn’t exist' Safe consumption site supporters says Lethbridge parents would worry more if service didn’t exist
Lethbridge parents have made their feelings heard about needle debris in public areas around the city. But those who support the safe consumption site say harm-reduction plans are keeping the overdose crisis from being worse. Kyle Benning has the story – Jun 14, 2018

The organization that runs Lethbridge’s safe consumption site believes residents would have a lot more to be concerned about if it wasn’t around.

ARCHES (AIDS Outreach Community Harm Reduction Education & Support Society) noted taxpayers would have to cough up a lot more and children could have to do more than avoid discarded needles if they didn’t exist.

The managing director said it costs $1.2 million to treat a drug user who contracts HIV and $60,000 to treat Hepatitis C, compared to 11 cents for a new syringe.

“From a purely pragmatic perspective, we do know that harm-reduction is cost effective. We do know that it saves dollars,” Jill Manning said.

READ MORE: Lethbridge mother says pre-teen poked with needle outside of preschool

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On Thursday, she told Global News if the site wasn’t there, more drug use would be taking place in public areas and pose a larger threat to the public.

She said there were about 20,000 visits to the site in its first three months.

“While I realize it’s not ideal, we also have to deal in reality. The reality is that right now, we’re in the middle of a drug epidemic.”

WATCH: Global News’ coverage of discarded needles and Lethbridge’s safe consumption site

Alberta Health Services (AHS) said these tactics aren’t enabling drug users, who would otherwise be putting their health in jeopardy.

“We talk about the risk of HIV, which can be transmitted through needles and other activities, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B,” said medical health officer Dr. Vivien Suttorp.

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READ MORE: Lethbridge parents call for changes after used needles found at parks

AHS figures show hepatitis C doubled in the south zone between 2013 and 2017, which is linked to the opioid crisis.

In the first three months of 2018, there were 26 cases of hepatitis C in the region.

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