Against the backdrop of an unprecedented opioid crisis, the Providence Crosstown Clinic is a bold step forward, as the only clinic in North America to offer medical-grade heroin and the legal analgesic hydromorphone to chronic substance use patients in a supervised clinical setting.
Unlike safe injection sites, where clients bring their own drugs, the Providence Crosstown Clinic has an on-site pharmacy that provides prescription injectable opiates based on each client’s need.
Doctors, nurses, social workers and counsellors are available and clients receive support in numerous other ways including life-skills counselling, housing referrals and direction to legal assistance.
All of the Providence Crosstown Clinic’s clients participated in the SALOME study at St. Paul’s (Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness), a clinical trial that tested alternative treatments for people with chronic heroin addiction who were not benefitting from known treatments. (About 10% of the heroin-dependent population does not respond to treatments such as oral methadone.)
The Providence Crosstown Clinic’s vision is to create opportunities for care, advocacy and learning, while a key part of its mission is to advocate for a “continuing stable treatment program,” which, as evidence continues to show, is helping people stabilize their lives and, in many cases, reclaim them.