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 →
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.
This is definitely a step in the right direction! We know that any forward movement in decriminalizing substances helps to decriminalize and destigmatize those who use drugs. BC overall, and Vancouver more specifically, have both been leading the charge in the country towards this end with the introduction of a safe supply program last summer and Vancouver’s filing for drug possession exemptions last November. Since then Toronto has filed a similar exemption request, and the same is being considered by various municipalities across the country, most notably in Hamilton, Edmonton, and Saskatoon. Also in favour of decriminalizing drugs for personal use is the Ontario NDP, which is something they say they will work towards now that they are once again the official opposition in the provincial government. The federal government has also come out saying they are open to working with various jurisdictions to expand decriminalization efforts across the country, and even the Conservatives claim to support a health-based rather than criminal approach to all substance use. However, we have yet to see progress in creating such a policy at the federal level, which is crucial given the number of opioid related deaths and continued stigma experienced across the country. Continue reading →
Xannies, tictacs, bars, oh my! All the ins and outs of benzodiazepines (benzos) and z-drugs! Commonly used prescription drugs for anxiety and insomnia, and are also used recreationally without a prescription. Even when they’re prescribed, they still have unique risks! Benzos have been infiltrating the illicit drug trade, increasing the risk of overdose and uncomfortable side effects. This piece covers the differences, dosages and routes of administration and other harm reduction strategies to keep you and your friends as safe as possible.
GHB: Gamma Hydroxybutyrate & GBL is Gamma Butyrolactone. Both are central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow your heartrate and breathing. (See our other article for more details about GHB also!)
GHB is occasionally prescribed for patients struggling with narcolepsy; under the brand name of Xyrem.
GBL is a precursor to GHB, meaning when GBL is consumed it is turned into GHB in the body, effectively making the substances very similar when consumed. GBL is a chemical solvent used in industries to produce other chemicals.
GHB is commonly bought and sold in vials and bottles, and is made by mixing GBL with sodium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide.
GHB is consumed orally, often times mixed in a soft drink.
Both GHB and GBL are clear, oily liquids.
GHB tastes slightly salty and bitter, and is typically odorless or has a mild salty odor, while GBL has a very strong chemical scent & taste.
GHB chemical structure
Effects may include:
Euphoria, nausea, blacking out or ‘G-ing out’, increased sex drive, dizziness, disinhibition, altered mood, clumsiness, altered perception of time, sleepiness, sweating, memory loss, auditory and visual hallucinations and confusion. GHB takes about 20-60 minutes to kick in, and lasts up to 2.5 hours, with after effects lasting up to 4 hours.
With the stay at home order, social isolation, prolonged stress and employment loss- it is no surprise that substance use may be more prevalent during this time. We’ll cover some of the data that was collected by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in the earlier months of the pandemic. The CCSA asked over 1000 respondents during April of 2020, about their alcohol and cannabis use habits/rates.
For centuries nutmeg has been used as a psychoactive drug, falling in and out of popularity. It is often selected because it is cheap and easy to come by, (there might be some in your kitchen spice rack right now). Nutmeg is sometimes used to ease symptoms when experiencing opiate/ opioid withdrawal.
Since the 12th century people have used nutmeg as both a drug with medicinal properties and a seasoning. French astrologer, Nostradamus, was said to have induced his prophetic visions by ingesting large quantities of nutmeg. Malcom X is even quoted noting “a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers,” in his autobiography.
A drug with such a rich history is sure to peak some people’s interest and curiosities, especially being so cheap and easy to access. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the dangers and risk of harm when ingesting nutmeg in high quantities. Currently there is a recurring “Nutmeg Challenges” trend on social media sites like Facebook and TikTok where people (especially teens and young adults) are filming themselves after consuming 2-4 tablespoons of nutmeg.
Light to moderate doses for ground nutmeg range from 5-20g, (roughly 1-5 teaspoons), with strong doses being from 20-30g, (roughly 5-7 teaspoons).
Boofing, also known as “hooping”*, “booty-bumping”, “butt-chugging”, “shelving”, “stuffing”, “plugging” or “alcohol enemas”, is when you put alcohol or another drug into your rectum. These terms will change depending on who you’re with, or where you’re using. For example, the terms ‘hooping’ or ‘hoopers’ is also used in party scenes to refer to the act of hula hooping or the people who hula hoop. In some places “boofing” is slang for smoking weed. Make sure that everyone is on the same page to avoid embarrassing mix ups!
Cannabis edibles have been made and enjoyed by many people for many years. Since legalization of cannabis, weed infused edibles are becoming increasingly more common. However, supply of legal edibles is limited, and the dosage may be lower than some users would want. With the black market options vast in dosage and flavours, some users turn to black market brands or homemade. Black market or homemade edibles are unregulated though. A study of edibles across Canada showed that products contained 1/5th to ½ of the THC labeled on the package. What can make edibles even more unpredictable is the number of servings in each edible product (such as a brownie or gummy bear) can change from product to product. Here are some tips on how you can be safe and have fun while ingesting edibles.
Do you like to drink? Do you drink to get drunk? Sometimes it’s easy to forget that alcohol is a drug, and drinking is a form of getting high. Most conversations about drug use encourage users to keep dosage in mind, and to think about the timeline of a specific drug. For example, if you take MDMA, you know you’ll be high for around 4-6 hours, and if you choose to do more during that time you will be high for a longer period of time.