The Lethbridge Herald reported on the opioid crisis ongoing throughout the country focused on the province of Alberta. There has been a community backlash to the opioid crisis that has led to several deaths in this month alone.

There is needle debris. There are substances and users. Communities are working to deal with it. The Alberta Health Services Lead Medical Officer, Dr. Vivien Suttorp, spoke about the harm reduction approach to the opioid crisis.

“With harm reductions, we provide services to individuals who are addicted to opioids and who are unable or unwilling to seek treatment,” Suttorp stated, “We support them in safe practices, and we support them in ensuring they have links to community organizations and social supports as required, and that they have appropriate education.”

The needles that become debris may be host to various viruses including hepatitis C, hepatitis C, and HIV. In the majority of contexts, a virus is only alive for  few minutes on the needles. Therefore, the needles may not be a harm in the longer term.

However, there may be accidental pokes from needles less than a few minutes after use, and so the health workers or others may contract these serious viruses. If you are pricked, poked, or punctured by a needle such as these, then you should immediately wash very well with water mixed with soap and then call HealthLink.

Immunizations are important for self-protection of citizens. “All children receive hepatitis B vaccine… Hepatitis B is one of the viruses that lasts longer in a needle. So make sure your children are up to date,” Suttorp explained.

The calls for pediatric needles for HealthLink have not increased over the last year and a half with about 1 to 3 per month. “But there are no details available on where and how those incidents take place,” the Lethbridge Herald notes.

68,000 needles, approximately, were on the Lethbridge streets with a 45% return rate. 55,000 syringes have gone out as well with a 95% return rate.

The Executive Director of ARCHES, Stacey Bourque, stated that the people who take the needles through a clean needle program are encouraged to return those needles. Those who take the needles out remove them from a free biohazard container.

The World Health Organization, or the WHO, has a set of best practices. ARCHES follows them. Bourque explained, “The outlined best practice from the (WHO) is that you operate as a distribution program… You don’t limit access to syringes or restrict access regardless of the fact you are operating an (SCS). And you don’t require a one-for-one exchange.”

Needles can be tracked to a degree, but ineffectively. However, no solid means exists in wide practice to be able to track syringes and ARCHES is unable to have them mandatorily set up to be returned.

One of the most effective ways to prevent disease spreading is to have on-time use syringes, according to the article.

“There isn’t a communicable disease we know of that is contained within one subpopulation… Eventually, it’s going to make its way out into the general population,” Bourque stated, “We tried (retractable needles) as a pilot program six months ago and there were a few issues with that… We’re talking about people who don’t necessarily have safe injection practices.”

Bourque and ARCHES are open to suggestions from the public.

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen


(Last Update: September 28, 2016)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping (lifting, mowing, and raking) and gardening (digging, planting, and weeding). He is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. UCI Ethics Center awarded him with the distinction of Francisco Ayala Scholar (2014) for mentoring, presenting, researching, and writing. If you want to contact Scott, you may inquire or comment through e-mail:

He published in American Enterprise InstituteAnnaborgiaConatus NewsEarth Skin & EdenFresh Start Recovery CentreGordon Neighbourhood HouseHuffington PostIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based JournalJolly DragonsKwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology DepartmentLa Petite MortLearning Analytics Research GroupLifespan Cognition Psychology LabLost in SamaraMarijuana Party of CanadaMomMandyNoesis: The Journal of the Mega SocietyPiece of MindProduction ModeSynapseTeenFinancialThe PeakThe UbysseyThe Voice MagazineTransformative DialoguesTreasure Box KidsTrusted Clothes.

Share This