Virtual ‘spotting’ could help keep drug users safe during COVID-19

A group of researchers at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs are studying a remote supervised-consumption model known as “spotting” to understand its benefits among people who use drugs during the pandemic.

The research team coined the term because the model involves a “spottee” consuming drugs in a safe location such as their home while a friend, family member or an acquaintance – the spotter –monitors them virtually.

“Before someone consumes a drug, they call their spotter on the phone who will be there on the call with them as they use,” says project lead Carol Strike, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “The spotter stays on the line with the spottee for another five to 15 minutes to ensure they are safe or call for help if needed.”

So far, Strike says the researchers have found that spotters and spottees view the model as a way to be safe during the pandemic.

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