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When words turn bad

The other day I was on a conference call and we were discussing which tags and keywords should be included in a collaborative online database.

The terms “substance use” and “harm reduction” were both on the list. I suggested we add “addiction.”

Some other people on the call said that we don’t use that term anymore, [...]

Seamy Underbelly, Part II

Visiting the Downtown Eastside (DTES) has churned up some contradictions for me, and resolving those contradictions requires re-thinking some questions I thought I already knew the answers to:

1) To what extent do people choose to live in the DTES, and to what extent are they stuck there?

2) Does the DTES community strengthen its residents or [...]

My visit to the seamy underbelly

At the harbour, outside my hotel

So…I went to Vancouver for a whirlwind business trip. I arrived Wednesday afternoon and left Friday morning. I was working most of the time, but I did have two more-or-less free evenings, so I did what I could to cram Vancouver in.

I hadn’t been there in 30-odd years, and [...]

The lowdown on substance use

Last night I attended a free session at our local mental health facility. It was called Getting the Low Down on Substance Use, and was presented by Michael Coughlin, a registered nurse with the Royal’s Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders program.

I was interested because I have a young friend who uses heroin. He was kicked [...]

Safe injection sites: Treating people with addictions like they matter

Last October, the Supreme Court ruled that Insite, Vancouver’s safe injection site, could stay open despite the Harper Government’s objections. The arguments hinged on whether addiction was primarily a health issue or a crime issue. If it were a health matter it would fall under provincial jurisdiction; if it were a criminal code issue, it [...]

Insite comes to Ottawa

The Harper Government TM is still attempting to shut down Insite, Canada’s only supervised injection site. The case is now before the Supreme Court of Canada, which is where I spent yesterday morning.

I had to line up to go through a scanner, and empty my pockets and put metal things in a bin and so [...]

Making wine for alcoholics

GC and I made 4,000 bottles of wine yesterday. It’s for the Managed Alcohol Program at The Oaks, which is under the Shepherds of Good Hope umbrella. We’re the new volunteer assistant winemakers.

There’s a wine-making room on the premises, where they make the equivalent of 4,000 bottles every five weeks. Making the wine instead [...]

Bill C-15: Stupid policy, shrewd strategy

The Conservatives are trying to take the war on drug users to another level with Bill C-15, which proposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

This Bill, if passed into law, will strip judges of their discretion in sentencing Canadians convicted of drug offenses. Rather than being allowed to take all factors into consideration before making [...]

A novel approach: Doing what works

Years ago, when my criminology degree was fresh, I did a volunteer stint as a court worker for the Ottawa Elizabeth Fry Society. My job, one morning a week, was to show up at First Appearance Court, keep an eye out for women who looked like they needed some help, and try to match them [...]

Addictive hobbies

There’s nothing I like more than an addictive hobby. I love the intensity of obsession. I love that all-encompassing, can’t-quite-get-enough feeling. I love waking up and falling asleep thinking about it. I love knowing exactly what I want to be doing, and even when I’m not doing it, I can’t wait to get back to [...]