This page provides information on current research projects with BCCDC Harm Reduction Services.
Observing from Afar: Continuous Pulse Oximetry for People Who Smoke Opioids to Prevent Overdose
Smoking has become the most common way that people take opioids in British Columbia. The proportion of overdose deaths from smoking unregulated drugs increased from 31% to 56% between 2016 and 2020. Although smoking opioids is common, overdose prevention services do not have many tools to support people who smoke opioids.
Pulse oximeters check the amount of oxygen in people’s blood in real-time. Healthcare settings often use continuous pulse oximeters, which can be operated remotely. We wondered if overdose prevention services can also use continuous pulse oximeters to help people who smoke opioids.
In partnership with four overdose prevention services across British Columbia, we studied whether continuous pulse oximeters are effective at detecting overdoses, easy to use, and acceptable to staff and people who use opioids at these sites.
If you have questions, comments, or are adapting oximetry technology at your site, we'd be pleased to connect and to learn about your experiences. Feel free to email Dr. Moe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information see:
- Project Overview
- Executive Summary
- Project Timeline
- How to Use Continuous Pulse Oximetry (Print Ready)
- Project Report
- Qualitative Summary
- Demographic and Patterns of Opioid Use (Infographic)
 British Columbia Coroners Service. Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths in BC Knowledge Update: Mode of Consumption. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/birth-adoption-death-marriage-and-divorce/deaths/coroners-service/statistical/mode-of-consumption.pd
Understanding Substance Use Patterns & Preferences: Informing Safe Supply and Safer Use Services
This study aims to gain an understanding of how and why people who use drugs use particular substances and modes of use as well as their Safe Supply needs and preferences, to identify opportunities and gaps in the design of Safe Supply frameworks and models. Consultation with people who use drugs ensures Safe Supply will be designed practically to increase accessibility, and better positions programs to anticipate and account for potential shifts in needs and preferences. To learn more about the project background see the overview below.
For more information see:
- Project Overview
- Project Progress Report (June 2022)
- Substance use patterns and safer supply preferences among people who use drugs in British Columbia (Infographic)
- Knowledge Update: Identifying demographic, substance use, and health services characteristics associated with obtaining Prescribed Safer Supply (2023)
- Substance use patterns and safer supply preferences among people who use drugs in British Columbia (2023)
- Examining prevalence and correlates of smoking opioids in British Columbia: Opioids are more often smoked than injected (2021)
- Investigating opioid preference to inform safe supply services: A cross sectional study (2022)
- Correlates of concurrent use of stimulants and opioids among people who access harm reduction services in British Columbia, Canada: Findings from the 2019 Harm Reduction Client Survey (2022)
- Motivations for concurrent use of uppers and downers among people who access harm reduction services in British Columbia, Canada: Findings from the 2019 Harm Reduction Client Survey (2022)
- Smoking identified as preferred mode of opioid safe supply use; investigating correlates of smoking preference through a 2021 cross-sectional study in British Columbia (2023)
1. Benzodizepines in the illicit drug supply: From the perspective of people who use drugs. British Columbia Centre for Substance Use Conference Online Panel Presentation (2022)
2. Investigating preferences for a safe supply of opioids in British Columbia. Canadian Public Health Conference Online Conference (2022)
3. Perspectives on Safer Supply: Insights from people who use substances in British Columbia Online (2023)
4. Opioid preference for safer supply. The International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) Conference (2022). Lisbon, Portugal
5. Stimulant preference for safer supply. The International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) Conference (2022). Lisbon, Portugal
6. Perspectives on safer supply: Insights from people who use substances in BC. Co/Lab Online Presentation (2023)
Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (GSDOA) Project
In May 2017, the Government of Canada introduced the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (GSDOA). The act aims to ensure bystander response by providing legal protection for anyone who is at the scene of an overdose from simple possession (possession for personal use) of an illegal substance.
The GSDOA evaluation project aims to assess the implementation of the GSDOA and evaluate its effectiveness at increasing bystander response in the event of an overdose by assessing knowledge, attitudes, experiences and intentions regarding the GSDOA in British Columbia.
For more information see:
- Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act Evaluation Project Overview
- A timeline for the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act
- GSDOA Project Update (March 2021)
- GSDOA Poster (Print Ready)
- GSDOA Wallet Cards (Print Ready)
- GSDOA Quiz: Test your Knowledge
- A Training Resource (slide deck): Improving Awareness and Knowledge Around the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act
- Patient Transport Fees: The Cost of Calling 911
Reports and Research Summaries
- GSDOA Policy Brief Report Summary
- GSDOA Policy Brief Report
- Knowledge of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act among Police Officers in BC
- Police attendance following the BCEHS policy to not routinely notify police of overdose events and concerns regarding police attendance
- Summary: GSDOA knowledge, Take Home Naloxone kit and mobile phone ownership among people released from correctional facilities in BC
- Summary of GSDOA project components (May 2021)
- Knowledge of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act and possession of a naloxone kit among people recently released from prison (2022)
- Police officers’ knowledge, understanding and implementation of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act in BC, Canada (2022)
- Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act awareness among people who use drugs in British Columbia, Canada (2021)
- Police officers’ perceptions of their role at overdose events: A qualitative study. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy (2022)
- "There are solutions and I think we're still working in the problem”: The limitations of decriminalization under the good Samaritan drug overdose act and lessons from an evaluation in British Columbia, Canada (2022)
- Intention to seek emergency medical services during community overdose events in British Columbia, Canada: a cross-sectional survey (2022)
- "We are the first responders": overdose response experiences and perspectives among peers in British Columbia (2022)
- Change in police attendance at overdose events following implementation of a police non-notification policy in British Columbia (2022)
- Attitudes, knowledge and implementation around the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act among police officers and people who are at risk of experiencing or witnessing an overdose in BC, Canada. Canadian Issues of Substance Conference (CCSA). Online Conference.
- Police officer’s attitudes, knowledge and implementation around the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act. Law Enforcement & Public Health Conference (LEPH). Online Conference.
- Take Home Naloxone (THN) kits, phone ownership and knowledge of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act among people being released from correctional facilities in British Columbia, Canada. Law Enforcement & Public Health Conference (LEPH). Online Conference.
- The BC Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act evaluation: Lack of awareness, limited protection, “but better than nothing”? BC Centre for Disease Control Grand Rounds. (2021) Online.
- Evaluating knowledge, attitudes and understanding of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act in BC. BC Centre for Disease Control Research Week. (2020) Online Conference.
Concurrent Use and Transition to Methamphetamine among persons at risk of Overdose (CUT Meth OD)
There has been a big increase in the Methamphetamine (MA) use in British Columbia1. Meth use has been associated with health problems and some people who use Meth choose to use it with other drugs like opioids. However, there is limited literature identifying the reasons for MA use on its own or with other substances.
This study, funded by CIHR, will help us understand, (1) why MA use has increased; (2) reasons for MA use with other drugs; (3) perceptions about the benefits and harms of MA use.
The findings from this study will help fill the knowledge gap to better understand the factors associated with MA use, and help to develop effective harm reduction interventions.
For more information see:
Knowledge Translation Resources:
- Using Crystal Meth with Opioids does not reduce the risk for overdose (Infographic)
- Findings on Party-n-Play in BC (Infographic)
- Brief overview of project findings - CIHR Workshop (Feb 2022)
- Concurrent use of stimulants and opioids among people who access harm reduction services in BC (Poster, CPDD Jun 2021)
- Safety beliefs and behaviours; an iterative analytic process (Poster, IOS Nov 2021)
- Motivations for concurrent use of uppers and downers; a thematic analysis (Poster, IOS Nov 2021)
- Substances as Social Lubricants: Understanding Party amd Play (Poster, IOS Nov 2021)
- Concurrent use and transition to methamphetamine among persons at risk of overdose (Oral, IOS Nov 2021)
- Identifying behaviours for survival and wellness among people who use methamphetamine with opioids in British Columbia: a qualitative study (2022)
- Crystal Methamphetamine Use in BC: A Cross-sectional Study of People Who Access Harm Reduction Services (May 2021)
- Correlates of concurrent use of stimulants and opioids among people who acccess harm reduction services in British Columbia: findings from the 2019 harm reduction client survey (April 2022)
- Exploring motivations for concurrent use of uppers and downers among people who access harm reduction services in British Columbia: a thematic analysis (April 2022)
- “It’s Just a Perfect Storm”: Exploring the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on overdose risk in British Columbia from the perspectives of people who use substances (April 2023)
1. BC Centre for Disease Control. 2018 BC Harm Reduction Client Survey [Internet]. Vancouver, BC: BC Centre for Disease Control; 2019 May.
What works for Methamphetamine use disorder? A systematic review of reviews:
This CIHR funded study reviewed international experiences in both harm reduction and treatment (psychological and pharmacological) interventions aimed at people with methamphetamine use disorder
Communicating Drug Alerts (CDA) Project
British Columbia’s regional health authorities issue drug alerts to inform people who use substances about contaminated drugs in the community. Over the years, street drugs have become increasingly toxic which has only been worsened with the emergence of COVID-19. Drug markets have become gradually more volatile, resulting in unpredictable and increasingly toxic drug supplies and increasing rates of overdose-related deaths. We are looking to interview people who use substances to improve existing guidelines regarding drug alert communication. We are especially interested in hearing from youth, trades people, people who identify as GLBTQ2S+, and people who identify as South Asian, and how we can make drug alerts more relevant and accessible to these groups.
For more information see:
Presentations, posters and reports:
- CDA Project Draft Report (March 31st, 2021)
- Exploring the Communication of Drug Alerts in BC (Poster, IOS Nov 2021)
Media & Language: De-stigmatizing Language around Substance Use & Harm Reduction Reporting
Media contributes to stigmatizing substance use by using stereotypical and harmful images and words to describe people who use substances. These descriptions create a damaging discourse that substance use is a public burden driven by crime and deviance, rather than a public health concern. This project aims to de-stigmatize substance use and harm reduction reporting by encouraging journalists and media professionals to use person-first language and non-stigmatizing images in their reporting.
A rapid evidence literature review was performed and findings discussed by people with lived and living experience of substance use who shared their personal experiences of the impact of stigmatizing language and images in media. No Canadian reporting standards were identified. The report includes the review findings, perceptions of people with lived and living experience, and makes recommendations on how to reduce stigma in the media.