Substance Use News August 2022

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

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. 


International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31

International Overdose Awareness Day – Time to Act and Remember
On International Overdose Awareness Day this year PAN is shouting out to Moms Stop the Harm, a group that was started with love and fury and continues on with the same grace and grit.


International Overdose Awareness Day Event listing


In the News

BC Drug Deaths Bring More Demands for Change
After six months, the province is on track for its deadliest year ever. With some deaths confirmed but not yet publicly reported from July, fatalities have soared to five digits since the public health emergency was announced over six years ago.


Fatal overdoses linked to stimulants on the rise in Saskatchewan
The number people who died because of a stimulant-related overdose in Saskatchewan during 2021 was nearly three times that reported for 2018, according to a Public Health Agency of Canada report. Deaths per capita in province in 2021 skyrocketed past Ontario and BC.


Educating police on harm reduction can help to prevent HIV and fatal overdoses
Proyecto Escudo (Project Shield) provided training to police on HIV, hepatitis, and harm reduction, resulting in a significant and sustained decline in arrests of people who inject drugs over the two-year evaluation. Modelling indicates this approach is a cost-effective way of reducing HIV transmission and fatal overdoses.


New book chronicles how America’s opioid industry operated like a drug cartel
In the new book, American Cartel, Scott Higham and co-author Sari Horwitz make the case that the pharmaceutical industry operated like a drug cartel, with manufacturers at the top; wholesalers in the middle; and pharmacies at the level of “street dealers.” What’s more, Higham says, the companies collaborated with each other — and with lawyers and lobbyists — to create legislation that protected their industry, even as they competed for market share.


Advocacy and Education

10,000 lives
Ten thousand lives have been lost to illicit drugs since declaration of BC’s public health emergency in 2016. Guy Felicella, peer clinical advisor at BCCSU, and Leslie McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm and family engagement lead at BCCSU, both spoke at a media event on August 16 along with Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe and British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth, Dr.Jennifer Charlesworth.


“They’re causing more harm than good”: a qualitative study exploring racism in harm reduction through the experiences of racialized people who use drugs
Increased opioid-related morbidity and mortality in racialized communities has highlighted the intersectional nature of the drug policy crisis. Given the racist evolution of the war on drugs and the harm reduction (HR) movement, the aim of this study is to explore racism within harm reduction services through the perspectives of our participants.


Harm Reduction in the Hospital: An Overdose Prevention Site at a Canadian Hospital
Substance use management in hospitals can be challenging. In response, a Canadian hospital opened an overdose prevention site (OPS) where community members and hospital inpatients can inject pre-obtained illicit drugs under supervision.


Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Unregulated Drug Poisoning Emergency Dashboard for provincial data from different sources.


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


Focus image by Andrew, Flickr (Creative Commons)