Category: Harm reduction

Voice to Voice Book launch June 18, 7 pm, Lost + Found Café, 33 W Hastings‏, Vancouver, BC


Thursdays Writing Collective invites you to celebrate the launch of our seventh anthology, Voice to Voice!

Thursday, June 18, 2015
Lost + Found Café 
7pm-9pm

Join us for a fun evening of socializing and celebration. The evening will include a SHORT reading (15mins), catered free snacks, book sales and some silliness. Details will be posted asap.


This book of poems, stories, songs and memoir by members of the Downtown Eastside community of Vancouver represents a year of thinking about music and transformation. It also represents our collaboration with six composers from UBC School of Music who turned 11 of our poems into original new music art songs. Our collaboration was facilitated by Laura Barron of Instruments of Change.

Beautifully designed by Doris Cheung, Voice to Voice includes score excerpts of the songs which were performed in two concerts (at UBC and at St James Anglican Church).

The book was funded by the community via an Indiegogo campaign and we thank Canada Council for the Arts, UBC School of Music, Peter Wall Centre, Instruments of Change, Carnegie Community Centre and SFU’s Writer’s Studio for support in many guises.

Written, created and brought to life on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Contributors include: Anita Lo, Antonette Rea, Brian Topp, Cindy McBride, Christiaan Venter, d. n. simmers, Donna Dykeman, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell, Erol Almelek, Gene Emerson, Ghia Aweida, Gilles Cyrenne, Graham Cunningham, Harry Langen, Henry Doyle, Irit Shimrat, James McLean, James Witwicki, Jan Tse, Jane Miller, Jano Klimas, Joan Morelli, John Alan Douglas, Johnny “Chihuahua” Jaworkski, Judy Nordlund, Laura Barron, Leichandra Truong, Lucas Oickle, Martin Ritter, Michael Ducharme, Molly Skye Ancel, Muriel Marjorie, Neil Dato, Patrick Foley, Rena Sharon, Roger Stewart, Ruth Dato

Accessibility Info for Lost + Found Café:
Main entrance: 5 feet wide, double doors that open outwards, wing handles 41” from ground. Weather permitting, doors to street will likely be left open. There are no steps to entrance. The space inside Lost & Found Café is stair-free. Signage is a sandwich board on the sidewalk.

There is parking (paid by metre) on Hastings St directly outside and opposite the café. There are bike lock-ups directly outside café, as well as the Hastings bus stop. There will be transit tickets available at the event for those who need them.

This event is a scent reduced space. Please refrain from wearing heavily scented perfumes and hygiene products.

Readers will use a microphone and the space has minimal echoes. Lighting is even throughout space.

There are a variety of seating options. A variety of upholstered seats & couches with and without armrests. The majority of seating consists of unpadded wooden chairs with no armrests. There will be space for those who wish to stand. There will be priority seating reserved for elders; these seats will be marked “Reserved for elders”, please help yourself as needed. If you need a particular kind of seating for your physical comfort, please contact us beforehand and we will have that set aside for you.

There will be snacks provided for all attendees. There will be vegetarian options. Water is freely available. Alcohol is not provided but is available for purchase in the space. Counters are 3’3” from ground.

There will be two All Genders washrooms for the event.

The hallway leading to the washroom is 32” wide. There is a 90 degree turn in the hallway with a turning area of 40” by 37”. There are two washrooms, both of which have one stall. The doors to the stalls open inward and the stall entrance is 33” wide. The washroom on the lefthand side has a stall that is 57” deep and 61” wide with the toilet located in the rear left corner of the stall, immediately beside the wall. There is no grip bar. There is a scooter and wheelchair accessible public washroom located at the Carnegie Centre at Hastings & Main, three blocks East of the venue. For further info regarding washrooms, contact Lost & Found at 604-559-7444

This accessibility audit was done using part of the information provided in the RAMP project audit (http://radicalaccessiblecommunities.wordpress.com/radical-access-mapping-project-vancouver/). Thank you to RAMP for giving us feedback on this audit.

See What Happens: My First Week in the Addiction Research Paradise

Abundance of data, army of eager support staff, in-house statisticians and hi-tech infrastructure – what else could an addiction researcher dream of? The Urban Health Program at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS offers endless opportunities for investigators. My first week in this paradise was full of awe, new learning and new people.

Starting on Tuesday, October 21st, Carmen Rock, the Project Coordinator, gave me an orientation to the Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI), tour of office, and let me sign the confidentiality agreement. UHRI is located on the top, 6th, floor of the St Paul’s hospital, which was recently renovated to meet the needs of researchers. As we walked down the hallway, Carmen stopped for a moment and we could “hear” the data buzzing in the ether.
Chanson Brumme, Data Analyst, gave me a tour of the laboratory. More precisely, tour of laboratories. Although lab research isn’t my specialty, I soon realised the importance and extent of the blood analyses that went on around us. Robots and laboratory assistants were lifting, extracting, ejecting and processing samples taken from the research participants.
photo credit: uhri.cfenet.ubc.ca
Mint Ti, Research Associate, sat down and went through a UHRI 101 tutorial with me. This introductory set of slides is available to all staff and faculty through the local intranet. Having seen the slides in advance, I was able to ask her more focused questions, such as the process of research product development and data requests to statisticians.
My last meetings of the day were with Drs. Evan Wood, Director, and Michaela Montaner, Special Projects Coordinator. Michaela’s work focuses on knowledge translation, including the Addiction Medicine education, which will be the focus of my fellowship. With Dr Wood, we were able to sketch out and quickly dip into the endless opportunities which the centre offers for investigators.
Continuing on Wednesday, October 22nd, Cody Callon, Research Coordinator, told us about the At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS), and its office systems; Amy, a Master’s student, joined us. Together, we travelled to the VIDUS (Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study) office. Elaine Fernandes, Clinical Trials Research Coordinator and Steve Kain, Nurse Coordinator, briefed us on the history of the study and new studiesthat take place in the building.

Ethnographic Tour with Ryan McNeil, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, finished my orientation on Tuesday, October 28th.  Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a well-known deprived area. We walked by and talked about the key agencies and objects of the area: the Vancouver Drug Users Union (VANDU), Insite supervised injecting room and many single-room occupancy hotels SRO’s. Ryan’s radiated excitement as he described the socio-cultural phenomena happening in the area which give an ethnographer a chance to study them in vivo. Gentrification of the area is a problem for many neighbourhood citizens. The policy of the Canadian conservative government poses serious challenges for the injecting room. The authorities try to push the scene out of downtown, for example by relocating the bottle depo site. The scientists are eager to “see what happens” next.

Overdose Education and Naloxone: Workshop for Family Medicine Trainees in Ireland

Overdose is the most common cause of deaths among heroin users. Our previous research has shown that the ambulances in Dublin see one overdose every day*. Naloxone is a life-saving nasal spray for reversing heroin overdose. It has no addictive properties, no potential for abuse and a low cost. In Ireland, it is currently used by ambulance and emergency care services as an injection into muscle, into the bone or under the skin.

Irish family doctors treat many heroin users users who are in the methadone treatment. This makes family doctors ideal to use naloxone themselves or to show patients how to use it. The new Clinical Practice Guideline of the Pre-hospital Emergency Council of Ireland advises that trained professionals can use intranasal naloxone.

Today, we ran a pilot workshop with doctors in training. It was designed to help trainees identify and manage opioid overdose with naloxone spray. The trainees listened to a short presentation, watched a video clip about how to use naloxone (Figure 1), and tried it themselves. However, they did not get the spray to take home with them.

Figure 1 Jano simulating overdose in a pilot educational video for general practice trainees

23 young doctors from one postgraduate training scheme in Ireland participated in an hour long lunchtime workshop. We have asked them to self-assess their own knowledge of and attitudes towards naloxone using the validated Opioid Overdose Knowledge (OOKS) and Attitudes (OOAS) Scales. They did the scales before and after the workshop. Another questionnaire measured the acceptability and satisfaction with workshop. The doctors gave us valuable feedback on the session which will be analysed and published in an academic paper.

The take home message from today is that adequate training is essential for distribution of naloxone through Family Practitioners. In future studies, the knowledge from this pilot may be used to inform a train-the-trainer model. Healthcare professionals and other front-line service providers may be trained to instruct heroin users and their families in overdose prevention and naloxone use. Today’s workshop was timed perfectly, because the deaths due to overdose in the country are peaking.

*Study by: Klimas, J., O’Reilly, M., Egan, M., Tobin, H., Bury, G. (2014) Urban Overdose Hotspots: A 12-Month Prospective Study in Dublin Ambulance Services. American Journal of Emergency Medicine (Online July 30) doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2014.07.017

Urban Overdose Hotspots: New Paper out Now

Dublin ambulances see an opioid overdose every day; many times near the methadone clinics. Do people shoot heroin around methadone clinics? Yes. The common sense confirms anecdotal evidence from everyday experience of clinic staff and methadone users. Although this is no rocket science for most of us, it’s much harder to prove it.
Just as the presence of storks doesn’t cause the explosion in birth rates, methadone clinics don’t cause people to use and overdose on heroin at their door steps. Most overdoses in our study were within 1000 metres radius around the clinics, it means that they were not in the immediate vicinity of clinics. Regardless of the location, the high number of overdoses in Dublin calls for an immediate distribution of the heroin antidote – Naloxone. Visit my previous post for more info on our pilot Naloxone project.
Cited study: Urban Overdose Hotspots: A 12-Month Prospective Study in Dublin Ambulance Services http://www.ajemjournal.com/article/S0735-6757(14)00510-5/abstract
Study authors:
Received: June 6, 2014; Received in revised form: June 26, 2014; Accepted: July 2, 2014; Published Online: July 30, 2014

Publication stage: In Press Accepted Manuscript

Shooting Overdose video

Do we need another educational video about overdose prevention? No. A simple internet search reveals hundreds of these clips. However, as the saying goes “If it hasn’t been done in Ballydehob, it can’t be true.” Of course, I tweaked the saying a bit. My point is that local problems need local(-ised) solutions.

In Dublin, Ireland, ambulance services attend to an opioid overdose every day. No surprises, the third highest rate of deaths due to drugs – 70 per million – in Europe. Reasons are complex – consequences fatal. But there is a simple solution. Naloxone, a heroin antidote, can be sprayed into an overdosed person by anybody. It is safe, harmless and cheap.

Figure 1 Naloxone

In USA, 10,171 lives have been saved by Naloxone which have been distributed to 53,032 persons. Naloxone saves lives. And yet, “If it hasn’t been done in Ballydehop, it can’t work.” Ballydehob is a small village on the Irish coast, very far from Dublin. We can’t show that Naloxone works there, but we can do so in the University College Dublin. And so we are, developing and piloting an educational intervention on overdose prevention and naloxone distribution by general practice trainees. Why GP trainees? Reasons are complex – consequences fatal. Plus, we need to start somewhere. Irish actors and accents will help us get a buy in from the local stakeholders who can help make naloxone fully available in Ireland.

Figure 2 Eric Schneiderman. Image: AP/Press association images
http://jrnl.ie/1574998


On July 1st, the UCD Centre for Emergency MedicalScience started production of a short educational video. The video shows 3 steps of response to opioid overdose with Naloxone spray:

  • Recognition
  • Assembly (Figure 3)
  • Administration – spraying (Figure 4)
Figure 3

Figure 4

Our work has been financed by the Irish College of General Practitioners. The college had no input into this post and the opinions aren’t theirs. They are mine.