Executive leaders of the Coalition on Opioid Use presented to city council on Monday, identifying their committee’s areas of focus when dealing with substance abuse in Lethbridge.
Treatment, harm reduction, enforcement, prevention and education are the four pillars the committee is focusing on.
To date, much attention has been put on harm reduction, the committee says, but now expanding the focus is necessary.
“We have so many people who are using our facility, that are very interested in moving along that spectrum and continuum into things like detox and treatment,” ARCHES Managing Director Jill Manning said.
“Unfortunately because there’s a lack of services available right now, it can be incredibly frustrating for the user, for their families, for us as service providers, because we’re not able to move them along that continuum.”
The committee is identifying these as gaps in local services and resources, using additional examples including the lack of medical detox beds, education for the larger public and provincial legislation for medical or non-law enforcement detention.
“If you look at our other provinces, so Manitoba, they have provincial legislation that allows for the lawful detention of intoxicated persons by non-police, medical professionals,” Lethbridge Police Chief Robert Davis said.
“With the lack of that in Alberta, they wind up defaulting to the justice system, or ourselves, or incarceration.”
The committee is also looking to create and bring together a network of community groups or agencies who are doing prevention work.
Monday’s meeting was the first phase of the committee’s three-phase plan for broader consultation.
The next phase will include a two-day community feedback session on Oct. 10 and 11 at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge.