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A group of Lethbridge medical professionals have responded in a rebuttal letter, released Thursday, saying Luan is “misguiding the public” and going against long-standing evidence.
“The Minister’s approach to the disease of addiction is foolish, flawed, and coercive,” reads the open letter, written by Lethbridge physician Dr. Susan Adelmann and signed by other experts in the area.
“Foolish because it ignores the evidence for harm reduction beyond only naloxone distribution and it fails to address root causes of addictions. Flawed since it doesn’t deliver services that are acceptable and effective for a large percentage of the people needing them (and) coercive because it makes essential medical care and treatment contingent on sobriety.”
Lethbridge used to be home to North Amercia’s busiest supervised consumption site, operated by the AIDS Outreach Community Harm Reduction Education Support Society (ARCHES).
The site closed permanently in September after provincial funding was stripped following allegations of financial misconduct by ARCHES. An audit found more than 1.6 million dollars in unaccounted funds and other “misappropriated” public money.
ARCHES was replaced by a mobile overdose prevention site, which operates 20 hours per day and can accommodate three clients, according to the province. The former site was open 24/7 and had thirteen injection booths and two inhalation rooms.
Luan said in his open letter the mobile site is an “adequate” support but critics say it isn’t.