Please join us at Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (168 Bathurst St) on October 23rd, 4pm to 6pm, as we explore the learnings from Trip! Project’s community-based evaluation ‘Aligning Diverse Community Needs for a Youth Harm Reduction Program Model’.
Young people’s access to relevant and meaningful harm reduction services is critical to supporting and enabling safer drug use practices amongst youth:
Seemingly unpopular opinion: having different experiences of situations, or forgetting details of those situations, or changing your mind about something and then providing an update on that later, are all behaviours that are not “lying” or “manipulation”, and these are overly harsh words to apply to common human behaviours and genuine mistakes.
This is something I have encountered quite a LOT in the last 4+ years, and I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. There’s a common trend these days to label so many (relatively innocent) behaviours within relationships with the buzzwords of trauma and abuse-centric vernacular. “Manipulation” is a common one, “gaslighting” is another. While it’s good we have these tools and words to recognise, label, and better understand our experiences and trauma, I fear sometimes their overuse ends up doing more harm than good. Let me do my best to try and explain what I mean.
Back in November/December 2018, I was that person that felt I was being repeatedly lied to/about and manipulated in a malicious way. I was MAD about it, I was HURT, and I didn’t spare a minute in labelling them as a liar or manipulator and telling them as much. They were pretty hurt about it. They lashed out about it in hurtful ways. It all escalated to a point that it probably shouldn’t have.
It goes without saying that the past few years have been hard on us all. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on society, and a lot of things have changed. On top of the pandemic, we’re facing an epidemic with the opioid crisis. In Canada, there has been a significant increase in opioid-related deaths since 2016. The overdose crisis continues to affect people who use drugs, their friends and families, and communities across Canada. Between January 2016 and September 2022, there were more than 34,400 apparent opioid toxicity deaths, many of which also involved stimulants or other substances. The crisis is continuously growing, and is largely affecting the youth population with young Canadians aged 15 to 24 being the fastest-growing population requiring hospital care from opioid overdoses.
At the rate with which we are losing people to overdose, and stigma around drug use in society, deaths by overdose are often overlooked. The lives of the people who die from overdose are often cast aside, and sometimes judged. Having conversations about drug use, overdoses, and what may follow when someone overdoses helps us not only destigmatize these topics but also helps provide support. While we don’t want to normalize preventable deaths from overdose, until there is safe supply these deaths will continue and we need to be able to discuss it openly. Overdose and grief are topics that may be hard to talk about, but it’s important that we share our experiences and communicate these things to not feel alone and move through our grief in a healthy way. Continue reading →
BIPOC 2SLGBTQIA+ people are often left behind when it comes to Pride, and so are our contributions to it. As a member of this community myself, I’ve experienced the struggles that come when more than one of your identities are not celebrated and centered, even by the community that’s supposed to love and accept you. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of three icons who are all BIPOC: Marsha P. Johnson, Barbara Cameron and Pedro Zamora. We deserve to be celebrated, and our contributions to Pride deserve to be remembered and respected all year around, not just for one month!
Today, December 1st, is the internationally recognized World AIDS Day (WAD). It is a day to reflect and unite in the fight against HIV & AIDS*- an auto-immune disease affecting over 38 million people worldwide; and also one of the most discriminated and stigmatized widespread diseases. HIV & AIDS was identified in the mid-80s’ as an illness spread through contact with blood, semen and vaginal fluids (transmission commonly occurring via anal or vaginal sex, sharing injectables). It was instantly projected as a “queer” disease, as a large portion of those affected were gay men and trans women. This labelling caught the attention from malicious homophobes/transphobes, which transpired into mass anti-queer rhetoric, propaganda and mass hysteria. This discriminatory attitude was adopted by many medical teams across the globe, resulting in slower and more hesitant trials of treatment for the condition. Many lost their lives and loved ones in this time due to misinformation, lack of details surrounding the disease and also blatant neglect from healthcare. Continue reading →
Sometimes the pressures of existing can begin to weigh heavily on us and we start to consider that we may need to ask for a little help from our loved ones. Maybe it’s because we have a lot on our plate just by nature of who we are and the world we live in. Other times we are those people that are seemingly so full of strength and energy to those who need a helping hand, so much so that they don’t hesitate to ask when they need support. Frequently though, it feels like I am perpetually and simultaneously in both states of existence; always overwhelmed by the needs of others and constantly considering asking for help in managing my own needs because of it. I’ve come to realise that I have a complicated relationship with needing, being needed, and asking for help. I wonder often whether I use helping others to distract myself from helping myself. Then I feel bad about asking for support because I might not have had to, were I putting my own oxygen mask on first. Maybe this is ok, though. Realistically, we all go through times when we have the energy to spare for the needs of others and times when we need help coping ourselves.
We’re now well into year three of a pandemic that has vastly changed our lives in many obvious but also many subtle ways. The ways in which we all interact with each other have been strained and altered. Physical touch in a greeting has become a bit of an awkward dance of managing people’s comfort levels. At least, dramatically more so than it was before all this. Being isolated at home has become the default for many, making connecting in the real world all the more challenging and exhausting. Social landscapes have changed: two years away from consistent partying has meant that many of your friends have taken the opportunity to leave that part of their lives behind. Maybe many others spent the past two years getting “too” wrapped up in their substance use (something we each get to define for ourselves, of course) during a time when it felt like the “rules” had changed or were no longer applicable. Perhaps you are one of these two kinds of people, or perhaps somehow you are both. Either way, the nature of being there for each other has changed as well. Continue reading →
Spring training is in session starting Thurs Sept 15th!! The Trip! Project volunteer training involves a weekly training course every spring & fall which features workshops on various topics related to harm reduction, HIV & Hep C prevention, sexual health and safer partying. You do not need to be knowledgeable about all of these topics already – this is a learning opportunity as well as a knowledge sharing one!
Currently most trainings are in person at Queen & Bathurst, as well as in person meetings, community workshops and event outreach. Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centres where Trip! is based currently require volunteers to be fully vaccinated or have an exemption notice <3
In highschool? Get your volunteer hours with us!
Get up to 20 hours from the trainings alone, and get more hours for participating in other project activities like doing outreach at nightlife and community events, social media content creation (Instagram, Reels, TikTok, etc.), writing & taking photos for our blog, making kits for youth (safer party kits, self care kits, art kits, kandi jam kits), attending harm reduction art or mental health drop-ins or zoom-ins with other like-minded youth and attending planning meetings, community workshops or hosting your own! As mentioned above, you don’t have to know about harm reduction or safer partying already – this is a great place to learn about it and bring info back to your friends and community – Just say KNOW! <3
To be eligible for our volunteer program you must:
be between the ages of 16-29 (If you are older than 30 please email or apply anyway, priorities are given to youth due to our youth-specific funding, but we do have some incredible 30+ team members)
currently connected to at least one community of young people who might use substances in Toronto, from underground nightlife to house parties to queer events to dances to sex workers to homeless & underhoused youth to Indigenous, Black and youth of colour or other communities of youth who party!
be able to attend trainings & team meetings in Toronto on Thursday evenings, 6-8pm
jive with our harm reduction philosophy
have a fun and open attitude, a willingness to learn, and be able to contribute time and energy to the project on a regular basis
The Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR) is an independent, non-profit organization
with almost 40 years of experience in community research. CCBR, in partnership with the Trip!
Project at Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre is seeking to hire a community
researcher to assist with participatory evaluation of Trip!. The Trip! Project is a youth-led harm
reduction health information service for the dance music scene and youth who use drugs. Trip!
provides workshops, trains peer educators and volunteers, operates outreach booths, and uses
social media to engage with partiers.
Under the guidance of a multi-stakeholder steering committee, CCBR and Trip! will work
together to co-design and conduct a community-based evaluation to explore the alignment
between the Trip! program and current drug using trends amongst diverse young people. The
evaluation will inform recommendations for future program delivery.
The peer researcher will act as a co-researcher at each stage of the evaluation. Peer
researchers are essential to participatory research as they bring invaluable knowledge and
expertise through their lived experience. The term “peer researcher” can mean many different
things depending on the context. In this project, we use the term “peer” to refer to a young
person (under the age of 30) who has drug use experience. Ideally, we’re also looking for
someone who has had some experience (past or present) with the Trip! program but this is not
mandatory. Continue reading →
So….we live in the time where Opioid MAT is a thing. Let’s explore it. Opioid MAT stands for Medication Assisted Treatment and, in this case, refers to drugs that work on the opioid receptors in the brain that are used to ease/prevent opioid withdrawal in folks who are physically dependent on them. Opioid MAT are often taken along with therapy and/or support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, S.M.A.R.T. Recovery, etc. Opioid MAT drugs prevent cravings and withdrawal, while simultaneously not getting the person “high” while taking it.
What is something that you know that you think the world needs more knowledge of?
For me it is BREATHWORK. Breathing… everyday breath.
Seems silly? Yes. But also, the work of our breath is so important and sometimes we forget to just catch our breath.
When going through a stressful day, we need to calm ourselves down with breathing. When anxiety begins to rise, we need to focus on our breathing. If we feel trapped, we need to lengthen our breathing.
Breathing is a part of our everyday living, but the way we use techniques actually can help us better our mental health, but also depending on the length of breath you can change your energy from calm to awake or vice versa.
Our nervous system is made up of two factors: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Our SNS is involved with excitement, flight, fight or freeze. Whereas our PNS is calm, relax, rest and digest.
While using the breathwork system and focusing within our breath we are able to create either more energy, relaxation or just simple balance.
You want to keep it simple. Box breathing is a great technique to come back to the present moment. This is where you imagine there are 4 points (like a box). You’d breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4 and hold for 4, then repeat. You would repeat this until you have come back to center and a stillness wave.
When learning how to regulate our nervous system, we are developing a connection between our mind and body.
When using drugs, we sometimes have outer body experiences. This may be great for some, but others may not enjoy. It is keen to remember the power of breathing to bring us back to our center. If feeling overwhelmed, use the box breathing technique. Take longer breaths to calm your nervous system.
If you are out and trying a sober night but need energy, quicker breaths will form a more upbeat rhythm to keeping us awake.