Substance Use News: December 2020

Substance Use News provides a snapshot of news and resources for those working in harm reduction. 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.


In the News

As Deaths Mount, No Timeline for Promised Overdose Prevention Sites
The BC Coroners Service has reported that, on average, more than five people died each day in November, for a total of 153 deaths in BC’s longest-running public health emergency. Fentanyl and its powerful opioid analogues were present in more than 80 per cent of the deaths in 2020, compared with just five per cent of deaths in 2012.


Legalize and regulate non-medical use of all drugs, prioritizing opioids
Personal possession and use of all drugs in Canada should be decriminalized immediately, but we need to go further. To combat the illegal market and save more lives, we need to legalize and regulate drugs. We should prioritize the provision of safe access to opioids given the toll the opioid crisis is exacting. Legalization and regulation are the options that cause the least harm.


First Nations hire outreach workers to find their own people on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
Outreach workers from the Squamish, Heiltsuk and Nisga’a First Nations are now making connections with their citizens living in Vancouver’s inner city, united under the banner of All Nations Outreach.


Advocacy and Education

Cannabis could reduce fentanyl use, reduce overdose risk
New research suggests that cannabis use by people in care for opioid addiction might improve their treatment outcomes and reduce their risk of being exposed to fentanyl in the contaminated unregulated drug supply.


Addiction Practice Pod, Episode 6: Indigenous perspectives on health and wellness, substance use, and harm reduction
In this episode, researcher and advocate Oh Po Kwa Nee speaks with doctors about how clinicians should be aware of the disproportionate impact of overdose crisis on Indigenous peoples, and best practices to address the disparity.


BC’s Overdose Overviews

December 13-26, 2020

December 6-12, 2020



Opioid Agonist Treatment Clinics Accepting New Patients (via BCCSU)


Harm Reduction Tools for Parents and Caregivers
#StimulusConnect is a series of live and on-demand webinars for the harm reduction. You can watch them all the link.


How to Regulate Stimulants: A Practical Guide
The ‘war on drugs’ has been a global disaster leading to violence, exploitation and record numbers of drug-related deaths. We all recognize the need to do things differently. In this book Transform Drug Policy Foundation shows why the responsible regulation of stimulant drugs is the only realistic alternative, and set out the practical steps to getting the market under control.


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


Focus image by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)