Substance Use News: September 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 Overdose Summary Reports
The BC Centre for Disease Control publishes a weekly snapshot of overdose events in the province. We’ve recently started to feature them on our site as well. See reports for September 23 and September 29.


Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) calls on City of Vancouver to increase and expedite safe spaces in the DTES during COVID-19
DEWC is concerned that this lack of safe space and access to critical services disproportionately impacts DTES residents, particularly women, is inequitable, will drastically increase the number of deaths and incidents of gender-based violence, and severely worsen mental health.


New public health order to help slow BC’s overdose crisis
On September 16, 2020, Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a public health order to increase the number of health professionals authorized to help people at risk for overdose access safer alternatives to the toxic street drug supply, as BC works to update prescribing guidance. The order, issued under the Health Professions Act, authorizes registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs to help separate more people from the poisoned street drug supply to save lives and provide opportunities for ongoing care, treatment and support.


Northern BC now has the province’s highest overdose death rate per capita
Prince George is the only city in Northern Health with an overdose prevention site, though the authority says it is examining other communities where it could establish such services, including Fort St. John.


The Importance of Drug Researchers Being Able to Disclose Their Own Use
Worldwide, the bulk of drug research focuses on associated problems and harms. Academics disclosing their own drug use could help to address this imbalance—and demonstrate that people in a broad range of professions use drugs, helping to destigmatize use, researcher Monica Barratt says. Some academics are already open about their drug use. One of them is Carl Hart, who cites both his research and his own drug experiences in arguing against the criminalization and demonization of substances.


Valuing lived experience of substance use in our organizations: Five areas of policy and best practice
Does your organization support the meaningful engagement of individuals with lived experience of substance use? The Ontario Organizational Development Program’s (OODP) Substance Use Policy Guide & Template was developed to support ASO leaders to build successful policies and best practices that will enhance the capacity of our sector to meaningfully involve people with lived experience of substance use in the effective delivery of all ASO services and programs.


Decriminalization of drugs ‘not a silver bullet’ for overdose crisis, prime minister says
September 2, 2020: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not back decriminalization of drugs as a public-health response to the country’s escalating opioid crisis, insisting that the approach, while raised as an option by advocates and medical officials across the country, is not a “silver bullet” solution. Listen to CBC’s Stephen Quinn interview Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week (10 minutes).


Loss of funding for intensive opioid therapy program will have fatal consequences, critics warn
Alberta: In a letter addressed to Premier Jason Kenney, more than 600 doctors, frontline workers and patient advocates call on the province to maintain funding for Alberta’s two injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) facilities, one in Edmonton and the other in Calgary.





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


Focus image by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)