Publication date: Apr 08, 2019
Canada continues to experience an escalating opioid overdose crisis that has claimed more than 8000 lives in the country since 2016. The presence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and its analogues is a central contributor to the increases in preventable opioid-related deaths. However, a number of converging social-structural factors (e.g., the continued criminalisation of drug use, political changes) and political barriers are also complicating and contributing to the current crisis. We briefly outline four harm reduction interventions (i.e., injectable opioid agonist treatment, naloxone distribution programs, overdose prevention sites, and drug checking services) as emerging and rapidly expanding responses to this crisis in Canada. These examples of innovation and expansion are encouraging but also occurring at the same time that the opioid overdose crisis shows few signs of abating. To truly address the crisis, Canada needs political environments at all government levels that are responsive and foster harm reduction innovation and drug policy experimentation.
Strike, C. and Watson, T.M. Losing the uphill battle? Emergent harm reduction interventions and barriers during the opioid overdose crisis in Canada. 03365. 2019 Int J Drug Policy.
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