What I do in Ottawa day-to-day is work with people who use drugs, usually injection drugs or people who smoke crack-cocaine.
Occupation: Registered Nurse, Ottawa Public Health, Healthy Sexuality and Harm Reduction Unit
- My name is Rebecca and I am a registered nurse working for Ottawa Public Health’s Site Needle and Syringe Program.
- I knew by the end of high school that I wanted to be a nurse, but I had no idea I would be working in the field I do now.
Personal and Professional Experiences
- I work under a “harm reduction” philosophy. Basically what this means is that at my work, we know that there are harms from using drugs, and we want to work with people to try and reduce these harms.
- Often I will work on our Site van. This van goes out every evening between 5-11:30pm and will drive to meet people anywhere that they need us in the city of Ottawa.
- Other times I will go to the shelters downtown and present to the people staying there about safer drug use.
- Recently a lot of my work has focused around a drug called fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid that is much more toxic than most other opioids. Opioids include drugs like heroin, morphine, fentanyl, methadone and codeine.
- There are different Fentanyls being made illegally and sold on the streets. This illicit fentanyl is often made as a powder and mixed with other drugs. It is also being pressed into pills and sold as things like ‘oxycodone’ or other pills including speed and ecstasy/MDMA.
- This means that people may not know that fentanyl is in the drugs they are taking, and they may not know then that they are at risk for overdose.
- Many of my clients use this drug, and unfortunately many have passed away from it. I have recently worked on a campaign to bring awareness to this issue, and you can find more information at www.stopoverdoseottawa.ca.
- This work is very meaningful to me. It is hard to describe through writing the people I get to meet and it is even harder to describe how this work has changed my outlook on life.