Drug Users Should Be Empowered As Experts And Paid For Their Expertise In Overdose Crisis, Says B.C. Report


The latest report says that drug users are usually the first responders to an overdose and they should be paid for their contribution to research, service delivery, and overdose prevention.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control released the report yesterday, October 3rd, based on data from last June when a meeting took place which included drug users, law enforcement personnel, the province’s mental health and addictions minister, researchers and the medical community as well.

The report is aimed at health authorities and more organizations to consult and empower the so-called peers who have past or present experience with substance use as experts with the ability to provide insights into the applicability of programs and policies such as harm-reduction services for instance.

Vancouver Coastal Health contracted RainCity Housing in order to run its peer support program in the Downtown Eastside. The jobs include drug checking, support work, leading counseling services and more.

Karen Ward is a longtime cocaine user who attended the meeting that we previously mentioned from June.

She was consulted for the report, and she said that drug users’ knowledge has been massively undervalued until now.

Supporting drug users as workers 

Drug users have to form associations or unions to work together, according to her. “Just the consciousness of understanding themselves as workers is a new thing,” she said.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s report highlights the necessity of payment standards across the province along with stable and fair employment to support workers.

The center already outlines standards with recommendations such as $25 per hour payment for meetings, or $50 per hour for a presentation and so on.

The report basically concluded that people need to find a way to live rather than a way to just not die.  The drug crisis continues but so does the fight against it.


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