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 →
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.
Breaking down various methods of reducing drug injection related risks & harms
There are plenty of reasons you might choose to inject, and injecting drugs can lead to some unique risks and harm. It allows for significantly faster, and more potent onset of drug effects (if you are mainlining) as opposed to insufflation (snorting), plugging (consuming drugs through your anal/vaginal cavity), or swallowing drugs. You can inject a number of different drugs including opioids (drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl), stimulants (like speed, crack, crack cocaine) and various pills. We’ll break down the basics to help keep you and your peers safer if you choose to inject your drugs through a vein; intravenously (AKA IV/mainlining) into your muscle; intramuscularly (AKA IM) or subcutaneously injecting under the skin (skin popping). Continue reading →