Sundre pharmacy provides localized harm reduction support

Sundre pharmacy provides localized harm reduction support

Sundre Community Drug Mart partners with Turning Point to deliver Harm Reduction and STBBI support to the Sundre community.

Turning Point is happy to announce that Sundre Community Drug Mart is set up as a satellite site to distribute harm reduction supplies to the community, as of February 19th, 2021.  

Sundre Community Drug Mart pharmacist, Chris Aingworth, said he’s been aware of the increasing levels of drug use in Sundre and is glad for this opportunity to be proactive within the community.  

“I don’t want people having to reuse needles and prefer them having access to clean syringes and other harm reduction materials”, shared Aingworth. “It’s also important for them to have access to sharps containers so they aren’t forced to dispose of sharp objects in an unsafe manner.”  

While the Sundre community seems to be aware of its increasing drug use, Aingworth said stigma is preventing vulnerable individuals from accessing essential support services.  

“I had a couple come in yesterday and they weren’t aware that we offered harm reduction supplies,” he said. “When I offered [the supplies] to them, they were shocked.”   

After asking the couple their needs, Aingworth simply gave them supplies without judgement and they left incredibly happy. 

Individuals visiting satellite sites in rural communities throughout Central Alberta will have access to clean syringes, waters, cookers, and other harm reduction supplies.

“For many, it’s a fine line between falling and standing up again,” said Aingworth. It’s critical to treat everybody equally and with respect.”  

“Every one of these interactions carries the possibility of improved health outcomes,” said Kevin Cunningham, Turning Point’s rural outreach worker for Western Central Alberta.   

Cunningham, who helped establish Sundre’s new satellite site, said health and social service providers like Sundre Community Drug Mart have the opportunity to provide life-saving supplies, education, and support – including Naloxone training and kit distribution.  

He shared that he’s often awestruck by the individuals, leaders, and community groups who question the existence of harm reduction programming.  

“We see time and time again how stigma and an unwillingness to provide community awareness and support cause many to hide their substance use,” said Cunningham. “This, in addition to unregulated/inconsistent drug supply, result in preventable deaths and STBBI transmissions.”  

“This is fact-based information that is unquestionably essential for the Alberta of today,” said Cunningham.

Unless greater action is taken by rural communities to combat stigma, those living in rural communities often fall through the cracks.

This partnership marks Turning Point’s 12th existing satellite site, meaning there are now 12 rural communities across Central Alberta ready to provide harm reduction and STBBI prevention supports.

Since 2011, Turning Point Rural Outreach program has helped establish rural partnerships to provide vulnerable individuals with a safe place within their community they can access judgement-free supports, supplies, and referrals that lead towards positive health outcomes.  

Rural Outreach workers can help train staff on the fundamentals of Harm Reduction and how the supplies are used. As pharmacies also distribute Naloxone and are fluent in the training, Turning Point can provide ongoing support and education (drug warnings, how to identify an overdose, aftercare, etc). 

Program Manager for Rural Outreach, Aisley Miles, said they appreciate all of the community partners who have agreed to do this work over the years and encourage more communities and businesses to participate.   

“Unless greater action is taken by rural communities to combat stigma, those living in rural communities often fall through the cracks,” said Miles. “Ultimately, these partnerships help empower vulnerable individuals by showing them they are not alone.”  

– Visit the virtual satellite site map for a full list of satellite sites and their contact information. 

By: Mitchell Danser