Overdose Prevention Service

On June 24, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) began an overdose prevention service (OPS) at Drumheller Institution to continue ongoing efforts to help prevent fatal and non fatal overdoses, reduce the sharing of needles, reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, including HIV and HCV, reduce the occurrence of skin infections, and facilitate referrals to other health care services and programs.  

  1. How does the OPS work in a correctional setting?

    The OPS includes consumption rooms within the institutional health care centre, where health care staff are available to provide health teaching, counselling, and emergency response in the event of a medical crisis. Participants will use self-supplied substances and safely dispose of any used equipment and left over substances. Participants will remain in the OPS for 30 minutes or longer as needed after using illicit substances for the purpose of monitoring for signs of an overdose. The OPS will be available between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., seven days a week.

  2. Why was Drumheller chosen to have this service?

    Drumheller Institution was chosen for the site of the OPS based on research that showed a higher number of overdoses at the institution, of which many were due to opioids.

  3. Are health care staff required to help participants inject drugs?

    Participants will manage the consumption process themselves. Health care staff will be present at the OPS to provide health teaching, counselling and emergency response in the event of a medical crisis.

  4. What quantity of drugs can an inmate bring to the OPS?

    Participants will be able to bring and use a quantity of their substance that is suitable for a personal single use.

  5. How does one participate in this program?

    Those wishing to access the OPS will meet with Health Services to discuss the process, expectations, and other available harm reduction measures.

  6. Will participants using the OPS be disciplined for having drugs?

    Participation in the OPS is considered a harm reduction initiative. Participants using the OPS will not be disciplined solely for using the service. However, if caught with illicit drugs outside of the OPS, they may face disciplinary measures and/or criminal charges.

  7. Does CSC plan to implement this program at other institutions?

    An integral part of the OPS implementation is an external evaluation of the program, where lessons learned from Drumheller Institution will inform future planning in the area of harm reduction.

  8. Will the OPS replace the Prison Needle Exchange Program?

    There is no single effective intervention in managing substance use disorders. CSC’s approach is to provide a range of options, such as both the Prison Needle Exchange Program and OPS, to address the needs of inmates in maintaining their recovery path. CSC’s suite of harm reduction measures include:

    • screening and testing at reception and ongoing throughout incarceration
    • education on admission and throughout incarceration regarding infectious diseases and how to prevent their acquisition and/or transmission
    • access to trained peer support workers for advice, information and support
    • access to harm reduction material and information (e.g. condoms)
    • access to substance abuse programs in CSC and community-based Narcotics Anonymous
    • opioid agonist treatment (methadone/suboxone)
    • health promotion/prevention initiatives on risks of tattooing
    • mental health referral/counselling
    • post-exposure prophylaxis
    • pre-exposure prophylaxis
    • HIV and HCV treatment
    • prevention, diagnosis & treatment of TB (parallel screening for HIV & TB)
    • access to bleach
    • Prison Needle Exchange Program
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