The Safer Opioid Supply (SOS) Program was started in 2016 at the London Intercommunity Health Centre (LIHC). The development of this program was informed by the recognition that traditional substance use and addiction treatment programs were not meeting the needs of some LIHC clients, particularly people who use drugs who were experiencing homelessness, street-involved, or disconnected from traditional models of healthcare delivery.
The main objective of the SOS program is to use a harm reduction approach to reduce some of the health risks associated with substance use, particularly overdose deaths related to fentanyl contamination within the unregulated opioid supply. In the SOS program, clients are provided with a prescription for pharmaceutical opioids to replace street-acquired substances from the unregulated drug market. SOS medications are generally provided as a daily-dispensed prescription for take-home dosing by clients. In addition to the provision of pharmaceutical medications, all SOS program clients are also offered comprehensive health and social services by an interdisciplinary team consisting of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, systems navigators, outreach workers, and care facilitators. This report details the findings from a mixed methods evaluation of the Safer Opioid Supply program at London Intercommunity Health Centre from 2020 to 2021. The goal of this evaluation was to examine the scale-up of the SOS program after Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) funding was received from Health Canada in March 2020, in order to identify what was working well and what could be improved as part of an ongoing quality improvement and SOS program evaluation plan.