Substance Use News April 2019


Substance Use News provides a snapshot of news and resources for those working to support folks who use substances. We share pieces on the social, medical and political responses to the opioid crisis, from advocacy to welcome change. See our Drug Use and Overdose Response page for resources on overdose services, team resilience, governmental reports, policy recommendations, and more.


We reached an uneasy anniversary this month: it was April 14, 2016, when Dr. Perry Kendall, BC’s Medical Health officer at the time, declared a public health emergency because of the epidemic of opioid overdoses, many leading to deaths. The current provincial Medical Health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, released a report, Stopping the Harm: Decriminalization of People Who Use Drugs in BC, and called for the province to decriminalize possession of illegal drugs for personal use. The challenge is, that controlled substances are under federal, not provincial jurisdiction.


Three years into B.C.’s opioid crisis, those on the front lines see change — and hope

Advocates on the front lines say they’re hopeful the crisis will end — as long as the province keeps advancing new solutions. Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says later this month she will release a report pushing for more bold solutions, like pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs and de-facto decriminalization. “This is all about stigma,” Henry said.


City of Vancouver flies flag at half-mast to mark anniversary of overdose health emergency

The flag atop Vancouver’s city hall was flown at half-mast on Sunday as the city marked the lives lost in the province’s ongoing overdose crisis. The city says it will fly the flag at half-mast on April 14 every year until B.C.’s provincial health officer rescinds the state of public health emergency.


B.C.’s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for eviction, study says

With little to no recourse against illegal evictions, overdose risk increases, study says.


Opioid overdose deaths are rising among people with HIV in the United States

People living with HIV often experience chronic pain, may receive higher doses of opioids and have a high rate of substance use disorders and mental illness, all of which could increase the risk of overdose.


After losing sister to an overdose, woman dedicates life to helping Indigenous youth

After struggling with addiction and her own mental health issues, Jaylene Delorme-Buggins has dedicated her life to helping youth at a youth empowerment organization called Live Different.


Crackdown: The Drug War, covered by drug users as war correspondents

If you’ve not yet listened to it, Crackdown is a new, monthly podcast about drugs, drug policy and the drug war led by drug user activists and supported by research. Each episode will tell the story of a community fighting for their lives. It’s also about solutions, justice for those we have lost, and saving lives.


BC overdose prevention sites should be template for others: report

A new study by researchers at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research concludes the rapid implementation of the sites should be used as a template for other governments to save lives.


Meet the BC man who has reversed more than 190 overdoses

Dwayne Martin, who lives at the Anita Place encampment in Maple Ridge, keeps track of all the overdose victims he brings back to life.


Overdose figures a ‘stark reminder’ of need to stop epidemic

During the first nine months of 2018, 3,286 Canadians lost their lives to apparent opioid-related overdoses,” says the Public Health Agency of Canada. For perspective, the town of Banff, Alta., had a population of nearly 7,600 in 2016.


Fake Xanax pills containing fentanyl circulating in Halifax

Health officials recently warned that Xanax, a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, is being increasingly abused by teens in Nova Scotia. Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax been involved in a large number of Canadian opioid overdose deaths.


A new type of body awareness training helps women recover from drug addiction, according to new research

Women who used the skills learned in the MABT, or Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy showed less relapse to drug and alcohol use compared to those who didn’t receive the intervention. Researchers studied the mindfulness approach in a large randomized trial as an adjunct treatment. The training helps people better understand the physical and emotional signals in their body and how they can respond to these to help them better regulate and engage in self-care.


More than 10,000 Canadians have died from opioid-related overdoses since 2016

According to new national data, an ominous figure of overdose deaths suggests efforts to curb the crisis are falling short.


Learn More

Visit our Drug Use and Overdose Response page


Questions? Feedback? Get in touch! Janet Madsen, Capacity Building  and Knowledge Translation Coordinator, [email protected]






Image: Focus by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)