Public opinion towards supervised injection facilities and heroin-assisted treatment in Ontario, Canada

Int J Drug Policy. 2007 Jan;18(1):54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2006.12.001. Epub 2007 Jan 12.


In recent years, controversial interventions such as 'heroin-assisted treatment' (HAT) and 'supervised injection facilities' (SIFs) have been established in attempts to minimise the high morbidity and mortality consequences of illicit drug use. This paper examines public opinion towards HAT and SIF using data from the 2003 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Monitor, a representative population survey conducted among adults residing in Ontario, Canada. Data relating specifically to SIFs and HAT were isolated from the main database (n=885); agreement scores were collapsed to create a scale and analysed using independent sample t-tests and ANOVAs. Results revealed that 60 percent (n=530) of the sample agreed that SIFs should be made available to injection drug users, while 40 percent (n=355) disagreed. When asked about the provision of HAT, a similar pattern emerged. Variables significantly associated with positive opinions toward SIFs and HAT were: income; higher education; the use of cocaine or cannabis within the last 12 months; being in favour of cannabis decriminalisation; support of needle exchange in prison; view of illicit drug users as ill people; and agreement that drug users are in need of public support. Given the current political climate and the tentative position of SIFs and HAT in Canada, understanding the public's opinion is crucial for the feasibility and long-term sustainability of these interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Harm Reduction
  • Heroin Dependence* / epidemiology
  • Heroin Dependence* / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Public Facilities / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Public Opinion
  • Public Policy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / methods*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / rehabilitation