Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 110, Issue 2, pp 210–215 | Cite as

Supervised inhalation is an important part of supervised consumption services

  • Stacey BourqueEmail author
  • Em M. Pijl
  • Erin Mason
  • Jill Manning
  • Takara Motz
Innovations in Policy and Practice



The first regulated supervised inhalation site (safer smoking room) in North America has opened in Lethbridge, Alberta, as part of a supervised consumption site addressing all routes of consumption. When designing the service, we felt it was important to accommodate not just injection drug use but also inhalation because (1) it is not the method of drug use that kills but the drug itself, (2) all people who use drugs deserve service regardless of their mode of use, and (3) people who use drugs should have the opportunity to use the method with the lowest risk.


We received approval from Health Canada to offer supervised inhalation services in addition to supervised injection services. Based on a European model, we worked with a local commercial heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) company to create rooms with ventilation systems that complied with Canadian health and safety regulations.


People who use drugs by inhalation have repeatedly told us that they want to use indoors and will do so given the option. Since opening the supervised consumption service at the end of February 2018, the response has been overwhelming and both of the inhalation rooms are constantly in use.


Supervised inhalation services provide an alternative to public drug use and an opportunity for people who use drugs to engage with harm reduction services. Other supervised consumption services in Canada may also wish to pursue exemptions for this service.


Supervised consumption Drug consumption rooms Harm reduction Inhalation Supervised injection Opioids Crystal meth Street drugs Illicit drugs 



Le premier site réglementé d’inhalation sous supervision (fumerie à moindre risque) en Amérique du Nord a ouvert à Lethbridge, en Alberta; il fait partie d’un site de consommation sous supervision pour tous les modes de consommation. En concevant ce service, nous avons jugé important de permettre non seulement l’utilisation de drogue par injection, mais aussi par inhalation car : 1) ce n’est pas la méthode de consommation qui tue, mais la drogue; 2) les personnes qui consomment de la drogue ont le droit d’être servies peu importe leur mode de consommation; et 3) ces personnes devraient pouvoir utiliser le mode de consommation le moins dangereux.


Nous avons obtenu l’accord de Santé Canada pour offrir des services d’inhalation sous supervision en plus de services d’injection sous supervision. En nous inspirant d’un modèle européen, nous avons travaillé avec une entreprise locale de chauffage, ventilation et climatisation (CVC) à créer des salles dotées de systèmes de ventilation conformes à la réglementation canadienne de santé-sécurité.


Les consommateurs de drogue par inhalation nous ont dit à plusieurs reprises qu’ils veulent consommer à l’intérieur et qu’ils le font s’ils en ont la possibilité. Depuis l’ouverture de notre site de consommation sous supervision la fin de février 2018, la demande est massive, et nos deux salles d’inhalation sont constamment utilisées.


Les services d’inhalation sous supervision constituent une solution de rechange à la consommation de drogue en public et permettent aux consommateurs de drogue de bénéficier de services de réduction des méfaits. D’autres sites de consommation sous supervision au Canada devraient songer à demander une exemption pour ce type de service.


Consommation sous supervision Salles de consommation de drogue Réduction des méfaits Inhalation Injection sous supervision Opioïdes Méthamphétamine en cristaux Drogues des rues Drogues illicites 



We are grateful for the professional expertise of Mr. Richard Altvater at 4 Seasons Home Comfort.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARCHESLethbridgeCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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