Substance Use News July 2022

Substance Use News provides a monthly collection of news and resources on the social, medical and political responses to the toxic drug supply crisis. Visit our Substance Use and Overdose Response page for more information on advocacy and resources. 

Info for People Who Use Substances: get the latest alerts, and tips on how to stay safe from Toward the Heart.


In the News

Shoreline clean up on the Coquitlam River has a deep message
Stopping the harm is the message behind a litter clean-up planned for Aug. 15 in Port Coquitlam.
The Reno Kindness Challenge is being organized by Belinda Ruckman, whose son Reno died of tainted drugs in 2019 at the age of 24. Ruckman said she and her son enjoyed the outdoors and the Shoreline Cleanup will be a way to preserve the environment, while also honouring her son’s memory. It will also educate about the harm of toxic drugs while raising awareness and money for Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH). August 15. Learn more.


Toxic Drug Toll Continues Deadly Climb
More than twice as many people per capita are dying now than when the province declared a public health emergency in April 2016. An average of six people died each day in May as efforts to curb the crisis failed.


Federal government has no plan on safe drug supply to reduce overdoses, MP says
More than a year since the federal government’s expert task force recommended it create a safe supply of substances to reduce people’s reliance on toxic street drugs, the government has not created any system to procure one. Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of mental health and addictions, said in a recent parliamentary committee hearing that the government is building toward a plan to address the opioid crisis. But she was less clear on what steps it is taking toward sourcing a safe supply.


‘Easier to get high than get help’: How a gutsy young rural doctor helped change that in Hope 
Dr. Aseem Grover had not planned to become an addictions specialist, but knew from his residency at St. Paul’s Hospital ion Vancouver that there were many services and treatments that could help substance users. They just weren’t readily available to the 10,000 people who live in Hope and its surrounding villages. Dr. Aseem Grover found innovative ways to help drug users in Hope — including handing naloxone to dealers and renting a bus to get people to care — until he could create a clinic that offers more services to rural patients.

Questions raised over adequacy of Canada’s $150M settlement with opioid maker
BC officials say a $150 million proposed settlement with an opioid manufacturer is an “important step” in the toxic drug crisis. Leslie McBain, whose son who died, says the real problem in toxic drugs crisis is poisoned illicit supply.


Advocacy and Education

Naloxone primer, during another record year for toxic drug deaths
Sarah Blyth is the executive director of Overdose Prevention Society. Sammy Iammarino is the senior practice lead, harm reduction and overdose response at B.C. Centre for Disease Control. They teach listeners how to use naloxone because BC is seeing another record year for deaths from toxic drugs.

Navigating Opioid Agonist Therapy among Young People who use Illicit Opioids in Vancouver, Canada
Opioid agonist therapy (OAT) has been shown to reduce opioid use and related harms. However, many young people are not accessing OAT. This study sought to explore how young people navigated OAT over time, including periods of engagement, disengagement, and avoidance.


Drug checking use and interest among people who inject drugs in Toronto, Canada
Drug checking services (DCS) provide information on drug composition to inform consumption practices and monitor unregulated drug markets. We sought to identify correlates of recent informal DCS use (e.g., fentanyl test strips) and willingness to use a formal DCS (co-located within a supervised consumption site and employing laboratory-based analyses) in Toronto, Canada prior to its implementation.


“It wasn’t here, and now it is. It’s everywhere”: fentanyl’s rising presence in Oregon’s drug supply
Illicit fentanyl has contributed to a drastic increase in overdose drug deaths. While fentanyl has subsumed the drug supply in the Northeastern and Midwestern USA, it has more recently reached the Western USA. For this study, we explored perspectives of people who use drugs (PWUD) on the changing drug supply in Oregon, experiences of and response to fentanyl-involved overdose, and recommendations from PWUD to reduce overdose risk within the context of illicit fentanyl’s dramatic increase in the recreational drug supply over the past decade.


Modeling HIV transmission among persons who inject drugs (PWID) at the “End of the HIV Epidemic” and during the COVID-19 pandemic
We explore injecting risk and HIV incidence among PWID in New York City (NYC), from 2012-2019, when incidence was extremely low, <0.1/100 person-years at risk, and during disruption of prevention services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drug use behaviors, trauma, and emotional affect following the overdose of a social network member: A qualitative investigation
Scant research has examined the influence of overdoses occurring in social networks (i.e., knowing someone who has overdosed) on individual overdose risk. We sought to characterize drug use behaviors of individuals following the overdose of someone in their social network. We identified variation in the effect of knowing someone who overdosed on subsequent drug use behaviors and emotional affect.



Questions? Feedback? Get in touch. Janet Madsen, Capacity Building  and Digital Communications Coordinator, [email protected]


Focus image by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)