Substance Use News: June 2020

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. With the added layer of the coronoavirus/COVID-19 public health constraints, those working in harm reduction have heightened concerns about how to provide the safest, most dignified support to people who use drugs. For COVID-19 specific resources, including harm reduction resources, please visit our COVID-19 resources page.  See our Drug Use and Overdose Response page for resources on overdose services, team resilience, governmental reports, policy recommendations, and more.


BC’s Chief Coroner Calls on Federal Government for Action
British Columbia has recorded the highest number of illicit drug overdose deaths in a single month, prompting the chief coroner to say the federal government should take bold action on the overdose epidemic as it has done with the COVID-19 pandemic.


BC paramedics responded to 131 overdoses Friday, ‘the most recorded in a single day’
BC Emergency Health Services tweeted the alarming number Monday afternoon. “Overdoses were across B.C., from Chilliwack to Cowichan,” the agency said in its tweet. “When paramedics respond to an overdose a patient has a 99 per cent chance of survival.” It said 131 overdoses is double the daily average.


Lifeguard App Can Alert Emergency Responders
For those who have smartphones, Lifeguard is an app designed to be activated by the user just before they take their dose and 50 seconds after activation an alarm will be triggered. If the user fails to stop the alarm by hitting a button on the screen the alarm gets louder. If, after 75 seconds, the alarm is not deactivated, a test-to-voice call will be sent to a 9-1-1 dispatcher warning of a suspected overdose and emergency responders will be sent to the scene.


Getting cut off safe supply prescription was like a ‘slap in the face,’ says Vancouver woman
Advocates for people who use illicit substances are speaking out and calling for better measures to ensure people who qualify to receive safe supply under the new guidelines can have confidence that prescribers won’t turn them away.


Addiction program for Indigenous adults goes virtual 
Wanaki Center, which serves serves Indigenous adults in Quebec and Nunavut, is turning to Zoom to continue its treatment program during the pandemic.


Gendering the Scene: We need to listen to women and gender-diverse people who use drugs
Unless our approach to drug policy changes, people will continue to overdose and experience other drug-related harms. And if this re-imagining is going to benefit everyone, attention must be paid to women and gender-diverse people. There is scant research in Canada on women and gender-diverse people who use drugs, which is why the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network sought to compile what research does exist into one report: Gendering the Scene: Women, Gender-Diverse People, and Harm Reduction in Canada.


The war on drugs: America’s secret racist war today
If there is one thing that has been made unassailably clear, the War on Drugs has been a complete and utter failure, but also that this one-sided, longitudinal attack has incurred colossal, unquantifiable damages to countless marginalized populations of people, namely those who are the most disenfranchised, disempowered, and least able to self-advocate.


National findings from the Tracks survey of people who inject drugs in Canada, Phase 4, 2017–2019
The Tracks survey of people who inject drugs (PWID) collected data in 14 sentinel sites across Canada (2017–2019) to describe the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C and associated risk behaviours and to examine trends over time.





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


Focus image by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)