Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology


Harm reduction, NIMBY, Opioids, Safe injection sites, Sitgmatization


N. Deckard


A. Smit



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


The growing harms of the opioid crisis in Canada has encouraged proponents of harm reduction to implement safe injection sites. However, harm reduction policies continue to vary throughout the nation, resulting in restricted or no access to these facilities in several provinces and territories (Pelley, 2019). Safe injection sites have been recognized as a valuable harm reduction strategy that successfully reduces the harms associated with illicit drug use of both the individual drug user, as well as the local community (Kral & Davidson, 2017; Jackson, 2020; Mrazovac, et al., 2020; Lovisotto & Baker, 2021). These sites effectively reduce and prevent needle sharing, overdose-related deaths, street injection, disorderly conduct on the streets, hospital/emergency services, and encounters with law enforcement (Mrazovac, et al., 2020). While the existing literature widely argues for the increased implementation of these facilities, safe injection sites continue to be controversial out of concern that there will be an increased societal and economic cost (Kerr, et al., 2017; Serkissian, 2018; Giarratano, 2019). This research analyzed the data from Statistics Canada’s September 2021 report on “Opioid and Stimulant-Related Harms in Canada”, to assess if there was any correlation between provinces and territories that had restricted or no access to safe injection sites and higher rates of opioid related harms and deaths (Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses, 2021). Contrary to what has been found in the existing literature, this decreased access resulted in lower rates of opioid related harms and deaths. However, this research was capable of demonstrating the structural problems that lead to substance use disorder and ultimately demonstrated that the opioid crisis is still a serious problem that every region in the nation is still facing (Belzak & Halverson, 2018; Hatt, 2022).

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