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Haunting images

I’m thinking today about an Ottawa woman who died last weekend after a 20-year struggle with drugs. My heart goes out to her family, who never gave up hope until last weekend. I wish them peace.

Lens – the New York Times photojournalism blog – showcased Ottawa photographer Tony Fouhse’s crack user series on Wednesday. These […]

I’m not waiting anymore

I’m sick of being sick. It’s not just the cancer. My back problem makes the cancer seem merely inconvenient. The protruding disk is so big it’s almost completely blocking my spinal cavity, and it’s pinching the nerves in there. Bottom line? Severe nerve pain in my left leg, especially when I walk.

So I don’t […]


Did you hear about Project CRACKDOWN and the resulting police sweep of the Byward Market? The Ottawa Police’s Street Crimes Unit spent four months investigating open drug use in the Market and then conducted a sweep of low-level street dealers on Thursday in preparation for tourist season.

Tourist season.

Think about it. That’s how we define […]

In a small crowded room with Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté at CCHC, March 4, 2009

Dr. Gabor Maté spoke in a small, packed room at the Centretown Community Health Centre a couple of days ago. He’s a physician whose clients are primarily hardcore drug addicts in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside.

[Also appearing at the same event was Dr. Samantha King, who wrote […]

Another myth pierced

I don’t know about you, but I thought addicts were notoriously irresponsible about disposing of used needles. From everything I’ve heard in the media and at community meetings, our parks, playgrounds, schoolyards and front lawns are practically carpeted in used needles.

There’s no question some needles are ending up in those places. But apparently it’s not […]

SCAN drama at the library

I went to a community meeting at the library on Thursday night about the proposed SCAN legislation (Bill 106) introduced by Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi. (Who, incidentally, recognized me, shook my hand, told me he had read my blog, and said his mother would be proud that I had said he was polite.)

According to […]

Harm reduction in the context of real life

A couple of weeks ago I attended a panel discussion about “harm reduction in a socio-political context,” sponsored by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

During the audience Q&As, a young man named Max Rowsell took the microphone. He told us that he has been using opiates intravenously for three years, and he just found […]

A hypothetical question for you

Supposing there were an addictive little pink pill that would:

1) make you feel good all the time
2) have no negative side effects
3) not impede your ability to function in the world
4) only cost you ten cents a day, and
5) be legally obtainable on an ongoing basis

Would you take the addictive little pink pill? Why […]

The addiction stranglehold

Conservative politicians seem to think it’s a simple enough matter to quit doing drugs. Just quit, that’s all. Just stop doing them. Just say no. They believe a more punitive approach to drug use will yield the desired results. If we wield a big enough stick, addicts will decide drugs aren’t worth it, and will […]

Smoke and mirrors

It was a year ago today that I stopped smoking. I haven’t had a single cigarette since then. Not even a drag. Not even a deep inhalation as I pass through the cloud of smoke outside the L’Esplanade. Not even a bit of tobacco rolled together with something else. Nothing.

I’ve quit smoking more often […]