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2014 Substance Use Trends: Surveying Clients

1,322 Respondents. New Information Collected.

Now in its third year we have updated the survey to include some important and time sensitive information!

The BC harm reduction (HR) client survey is a rich source of data to provide comprehensive information on drug use trends and related harms throughout the province, and also for the evaluation of the BC HR program. We were able to collect 1,322 surveys across BC, an increase from 779 in 2013.

Respondents by Health Region

For the first time, we included questions on respondent’s ethnicity. Overall, 63% of respondents self-identified as non-aboriginal while 34% of respondents self-identified as First Nations, Métis or Inuit peoples. Data have been shared with the First Nations Health Authority for additional analysis to inform program planning, strengthening our collaborations with that organization.

Of those who used opioids in past 7 days, 18% reported having a Take Home Naloxone kit.

Overall, marijuana (54%), alcohol (52%) and heroin (46%) were the three most commonly used substances reported in the past seven days. Reported substance use patterns varied geographically. Heroin was the most commonly reported substance in FHA (61%), marijuana was the most commonly reported substance in IHA (53%) and VIHA (58%), both alcohol and crack were the most commonly reported substance in NHA (57%), and both marijuana and heroin were the most commonly reported substances in VCH (54%).

The 2014 survey includes questions on client experiences with the transition from methadone to the new, cherry-flavored formula called Methadose which is 10 times more concentrated. 54% reported that their pain was worse on Methadose and 50% reported that they supplemented with other opioids, identifying areas for intervention.


To help understand the impacts from the change in methadone formulation on the nearly 15,000 people registered in the BC methadone maintenance treatment program, we worked with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and BC Association of People on Methadone to create a survey.

We received 405 responses from 50 harm reduction sites across BC showing adverse outcomes, including over half saying it made them dope sick and experience more pain, leading most to take additional opioids. We believe this highlights the importance of adopting a collaborative, flexible approach to policy making that engages all stakeholders as peers.

Read the study summary >>

With a recent increase in the use of crystal meth identified in the 2013 survey, we added questions on crystal meth smoking practices. We found that 58% of respondents reported smoking crystal meth with a pipe acquired from a HR supply distribution site, compared with 66% of those who reported smoking crack, offering an area for improvement. By providing safer equipment, we have an opportunity to engage with people who smoke drugs who may not otherwise use harm reduction services.

Nearly 1/3 of respondents reported experiencing difficulty finding needles or pipes.

We also updated the survey in 2014 to include questions of possession and awareness of a Take Home Naloxone (THN) kit. In BC, 18% of opioid users reported possession of a THN kit, 7% reported not knowing what they were while 29% reported that they would like a THN kit. This supports the need for continued expansion of this program.

Read the complete report >>


Sexual Orientation

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86% reported being heterosexual, 10% bisexual, and 2% gay, lesbian or queer.

Housing Stability

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44% lived in their current location for over a year, while 22% reported no fixed address.

Number of Substances Used

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2 to 13 substances, with a median of 4 substances.

Harm Reduction Supplies

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87% accessed supplies at a harm reduction site in the community that they lived in.

Read the complete report >>