Substance Use News November 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.



BC quietly allowing some methadone patients to revert to previous treatment amid relapses, overdoses

British Columbia is quietly allowing some methadone users to switch back to an old formulation of the treatment five years after a new version it had adopted led to relapses and overdoses for some patients. The 2014 medication change was announced publicly with news releases and notices to pharmacists, while the province made no announcements about the two changes this year.


Former BC health minister Terry Lake had sought review of Methadose switch

As the province quietly allows some patients to switch back, Terry Lake says he regrets not having consulted more with people who use drugs. “In my view, everything was done absolutely in good faith,” Mr. Lake said in an interview. “But I think the missing piece was not listening to people with lived experience enough.”


From People with Lived Experience: Crackdown 

In Change Intolerance, episode 2 of Crackdown, Garth Mullins and the Crackdown team explore what happened when peoples’ medications were switched.

In Change Intolerance Part 2, Crackdown investigates the relationship between the BC government and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.


Background: Methadose™ Or Metadol-D®?

In June 2019, Dr. Christy Sutherland, the Medical Director at PHS Community Services, wrote a piece for the BC Pharmacy Association on switching people from Methadose™ Or Metadol-D®. She speaks about working collaboratively to find the right medicine for OAT patients.


In Other News

Lessons learned from supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites in Canada

This on-demand webinar focuses on lessons learned from a national teleconference network for supervised consumption site (SCS) and overdose prevention site (OPS) service providers. Presented by CATIE and the Dr. Peter Centre.


Daily cannabis use lowers odds of using illicit opioids among people who have chronic pain

Researchers from the BCCSU and University of British Columbia (UBC) interviewed more than 1,100 people at highest risk of opioid overdose in Vancouver between 2014 and 2017 who reported substance use and major or chronic pain. They found that daily cannabis use was associated with significantly lower odds of daily illicit opioid use, suggesting people are replacing opioids with cannabis to manage their pain.


Prime Minister Trudeau appears open to safe opioid supply proposal in Vancouver, mayor says

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared open to a proposal from the municipality to provide millions in funding for a safe supply of opioids to reduce overdose deaths. The city’s health agency has applied for $6 million from Health Canada to allow for the safe distribution of diamorphine — a narcotic painkiller more commonly known as heroin.


Vancouver pilots new fentanyl-patch program to combat opioid crisis

A Vancouver physician is prescribing fentanyl to patients with opioid-use disorder in the latest effort by the medical community to curb overdose deaths caused by a toxic supply of illicit drugs.


BC woman survives overdose but left with brain damage

There are no statistics available on how many drug users have permanent cognitive problems from opioid use. Dr. Keith Ahamad, addictions specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, estimates it would be more cost effective to prevent overdoses by providing users with a safe drug supply, rather than care for people with overdose-induced brain injury victims long-term.


Resources from Toward the Heart

Take Home Naloxone 

BC Center for Disease Control started the Take Home Naloxone program in 2012 to provide life-saving training and kits to people at risk of an opioid overdose. There are now over 1300 sites participating across British Columbia.


Recognition and Response

Learn to recognize and respond to different kinds of overdoses.



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)