Stephen Finlay: Keeping Drug Users Safe With Supervised Consumption.
In this episode, Stephen and I discuss many topics, from safe consumption sites to medical heroin to Dilaudid dispensing machines on the streets. Yet, the underlying theme of this podcast episode is the value of having empathy and forming relationships with people who struggle with addiction. People who inject heroin are real people who deserve a chance to recover, no matter how long it takes for them to be ready finally. British Columbia, Canada, takes harm reduction to a new level with supervised consumption sites and many other programs to help people who use drugs on the streets to stay safe and help them along the path towards recovery. These programs serve as a positive example for what other countries, such as the United States, that do not allow these advanced forms of harm reduction, could do to save many more lives from the deadly effects of opioids and other street drugs.
Stephen Finlay is the manager of addiction services in the Surrey region for Lookout Housing and Health Society. Lookout is a non-profit organization that provides homeless shelters, supportive housing, subsidized housing, outreach, harm reduction, and related services throughout southern British Columbia, including Vancouver. Surrey is one of the largest cities in the Greater Vancouver area and has experienced problems arising from homelessness and drug use for many decades.
As an addiction services manager, Stephen oversees an Intensive Case Management team, a supervised drug smoking site, and SafePoint, which is the second federally sanctioned supervised injection site in Canada. SafePoint opened in June 2017. Since it opened, there have been over 190,000 visits to SafePoint. The staff has reversed almost 1,500 overdoses, with no fatalities.
Before joining Lookout, Stephen served as executive director of ARA Mental Health Advocacy, a small non-profit that provided advocacy services to people living with mental illness and poverty. He also has 29 years of experience in marketing, product development, and regulatory affairs at TELUS, Canada’s second-largest telecommunications carrier, and four years of experience in marketing research at Procter and Gamble. Stephen served as a civilian volunteer for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition from 2006 to 2015. In his spare time, he enjoys international folk dancing.
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