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Sudbury revamps Community Drug Strategy

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Two newly appointed co-chairs will lead Sudbury's revamped Community Drug Strategy (CDS).

The CDS was developed as a means to increase community safety while reducing the harms associated with substance use.

Public Health Sudbury and Districts, Greater Sudbury Police Service and the City of Greater Sudbury lead the strategy.

Dr. Mustafa Hirji, medical officer of health, takes over as co-chair for Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, who retired in April. And Heidi Eisenhaur, executive director of Reseau Access Network, will be the other co-chair, with Greater Sudbury Police Service Chief Paul Pedersen retiring at the end of the month.

Eisenhaur comes to the role with two decades of experience in harm reduction.

"As I'm getting to know more and more about the community, it is looking at the different best practices that have come across all the networks," she said in an interview with CTV News.

"We have so many opportunities to learn from each other. I hope that in my role, I'm able to help bridge that gap."

Hirji was unavailable for an interview, but in a statement, said “as the unregulated drug supply becomes more toxic, we must work collectively to reduce harms and save lives, while addressing the root social causes of this crisis to the best of our abilities."

The updated CDS was designed based on recommendations from the Greater Sudbury Toxic Drug Summit, held in December of last year.

Findings emphasized shifting focus from enforcement to addressing the root causes of substance abuse, including wrap-around services and individuals with lived experience.

"The toxic drug supply has changed significantly even over the last five years. The substances have become additionally toxic," Eisenhaur said.

"So we see more that need in the community for a greater response. And so when we're looking at the drug strategy, we really needed to look at it in a holistic way."

She added the strategy will involve building community partnerships to address an individual's unique needs.

"There are a number of different ways that people move through their drug use continuum. It is not a linear line," she said.

“There's a lot of different ways that someone may choose to continue to use for their entire lives. Someone may have that as part of their wellness. There are also folks that want to go into treatment and have abstinence as part of their program."

More about the CDS can be found here.

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