Substance Use News October 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.


Harm Reduction

Public Drug Testing Sites Are Helping Dealers Prevent Overdoses

Vancouver: One street-level dealer says the testing allows him to track which suppliers are cutting their product.


Mindfulness may benefit people on methadone

Mindfulness techniques and methadone may reduce cravings and pain among people experiencing opioid addiction and chronic pain, says a paper published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal.


A cuddle from mum instead of morphine: How rooming in helps opioid-dependent newborns combat withdrawal

A growing body of evidence shows a rooming-in approach, which allow mothers and babies to stay together in a private room and bond through skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, can be as effective as drugs in combating infants’ withdrawal symptoms. Read or listen (26 minutes).


No single path to recovery

Addiction and recovery experts from the BC Centre on Substance Use say Rutland residents opposed to supportive housing in their part of Kelowna are misinterpreting data about the effectiveness of such projects.


Advocacy and Policy Discussions

It’s Time to End Canada’s Simplistic Approach to Drug Policy

Abstinence works for some people. Harm reduction for others. Why can’t we support both?


Structural violence and Canada’s overdose catastrophe: time for a Royal Commission

A Commission would allow us to investigate the structural violence at play and allow for a sound accounting of the institutional, societal and cultural variables that led us to fail, so miserably, in our public duty to prevent thousands of deaths due to opioid overdose. From the Canadian Medical Association Journal.


Alternatives to Canada’s policies against criminalized drugs

Toronto: Expert panelists advocate for decriminalization, among other policies for treating substance use disorder. Susan Shepherd, Strategic Support Director at Toronto Public Health, discussed the need to treat the opioid crisis as a public health problem, as opposed to a criminal justice approach, and to consult people in the community.



Fighting Stigma

Sesame Street Aims to Tackle the Opioid Crisis in a Way Kids Can Understand

According to creators, around 5.7 million children under the age of 11 live in a home with a parent with substance abuse issues and one in three of those kids will enter foster care due to parental addiction, a number that has grown by more than 50% in the past decade.


Stigma an obstacle to health care for drug users in Sudbury, Ontario

Harm reduction advocates in Greater Sudbury say many people are blinded by stigma when it comes to the benefit of a potential supervised drug consumption site.



Public Health

Two in Five Young Adults Have Substance Use Disorder

A growing number of young adults are dealing with a substance use disorder, and in some cases, multiple substance use disorders, and not seeking help, according to a study from Iowa State University. The researchers found young adult women who identify as lesbian had significantly higher rates of SUDs than heterosexual peers, but there was no difference among young adult men.


Decline in BC overdose deaths continues but numbers remain devastatingly high

Overdose deaths declined through the summer of 2019, new data from the BC Coroners Service shows. It’s a positive development, to be sure. Based on the first eight months of data, BC is projected to see 1,035 fatal overdoses by the end of 2019. Before the synthetic-opioid fentanyl began replacing heroin in BC in 2013, the province only experienced a fraction of the deaths it sees today. One thousand deaths in one year is a catastrophe.


Worse than ever: How the opioid crisis and failed public policy has hurt the Downtown Eastside.

“We can’t pretend this isn’t happening.” CBC Podcast from The Early Edition’s Stephen Quinn (31 minutes).


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]





Focus image by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)