Research and Information

CanadaLand, February 27, 2018

There’s a well known narrative about the opioid epidemic: pharmaceutical companies and doctors over-prescribed addictive drugs on patients. But there’s an important policy story here too, and we need to talk about it. Featuring longtime opiate user and activist, Garth Mullins, and lawyer, Caitlin Shane.

Harvard, 2017

Learn about the opioid epidemic in the United States, including information about treatment and recovery from opioid addiction.

As of August 29, 2017:

  • in 2016, sadly there were 2,816 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada
  • from January to March 2017, there were at least 602 apparent opioid-related deaths and it is expected that this count will rise as additional data become available
  • most apparent opioid-related deaths occurred among males (73%)
  • the number of apparent opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl-related opioids more than doubled in January to March 2017 as compared to the same time period in 2016

National and regional trends

The current data indicate that Western Canada has been hardest hit by the crisis; however, several other provinces and territories are reporting increases in apparent opioid-related deaths.

Types of substances involved

Apparent opioid-related deaths often involve a mix of substances, including one or more opioids as well as non-opioid substances. Most (84%) apparent opioid-related deaths were found to also involve one or more types of non-opioid substances. According to available data, in 2016 approximately 84% of apparent opioid-related deaths also involved one or more types of non-opioid substances.

The Globe and Mail, September 27, 2017
Talking to your children about drugs has never been easy. Now, with the upcoming legalization of cannabis and the proliferation of fentanyl, it's probably never been more important. But how does a parent win their children's trust? How do you even begin?

Rolling Stone Magazine, January 31, 2017
European programs offer medical-grade heroin for users to inject under strict supervision, and it's helping – so why won't it happen in the U.S.?

University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research of BC, 2017

The goals of a comprehensive overdose response plan is to prevent overdose deaths, promote access to substance use services on demand and strengthen systems responses to promote health equity and social justice.

Canadian Family Physician • Le Médecin de famille canadien | Vol 63: november

Clinical question: Do supervised injection sites (SISs) reduce mortality, hospitalizations, ambulance calls, or disease transmission?

Bottom line: Best evidence from cohort and modeling studies suggests that SISs are associated with lower overdose mortality (88 fewer overdose deaths per 100 000 person-years [PYs]), 67% fewer ambulance calls for treating overdoses, and a decrease in HIV infections. Effects on hospitalizations are unknown.


An Exploration of Health Care Provider and Peer Experiences in Delivering and Receiving Primary Care

Major themes that emerged are:

  1. Current care models don’t always meet the full scope of peer needs (treatment often does not fully address the cultural, financial, spiritual, physiological or social needs of peers).
  2. Both providers and peers felt lost or hopeless when navigating the current treatment system (participants agreed that feeling lost and frustrated often led to avoiding or abandoning treatment).
  3. Trust is not always present between providers, peers and their families (trust takes time to build but was noted as a key component of successful treatment).
  4. Access to treatment is not always available or offered when peers are ready (low barrier, rapidly accessible treatment is often not accessible during key ‘windows of opportunity’).
  5. Current mindsets can perpetuate stigma and hinder access to treatment (substance use disorder is not always seen as a chronic disease).
  6. There is significant variation in the type of care provided by treatment centres and recovery centres (peers and providers said the variation in entry requirements and treatment protocols can make it difficult to feel confident in the effectiveness of the care being provided).
  7. Chronic pain is not always effectively addressed during treatment for substance use (pain is often dismissed or not addressed, and non-pharmacologic options are not always offered).
  8. Strong communities are a key part of treatment and recovery (providers and peers talked about the importance of connecting those in treatment with people who have lived experience with substance use, their families, community elders as well as cultural and community organizations).