A range of strategies, programs and partnerships are needed to take a health- and equity- promoting approach to addressing concerns about public substance use in communities across BC. Through support and connection with people who use drugs, many community concerns about substance use can begin to be addressed. For example:
Local governments and health authorities can continue to build their relationships with each other on these topics. Within the health authorities there are a number of staff positions that can help, including regional harm reduction coordinators, decriminalization leads, and Medical Health Officers.
Community organizations serving people who use substances are also important resources. Communities that have been hardest hit by the overdose crisis may also have Community Actions Teams that bring together partners to provide focused, action-oriented strategies to address the overdose crisis at the local level. The Community Action Initiative
shares information and lessons from these teams.
Local governments can create healthier and safer communities for everyone by engaging people with lived and living experience of substance use at all stages of planning.
Drug user groups are an important resource as they carry practical knowledge and resources to support people who use substances, and work to improve the relationships between people who use substances and their communities.
People without homes or who are precariously housed are more likely to use substances in public. Housing is more than an alternative to public substance use – it improves people’s health and allows them to make healthier choices. As well, offering substance use and harm reduction services within supportive housing protects people who use substances while addressing concerns from other community members. It is important that housing be inclusive of youth and pregnant and parenting people. Connect with BC Housing
for more information.
Overdose prevention services are evidence-based health care services that decrease the risk of fatal overdose and connect people who use drugs to social and medical supports. Local governments can help reduce public use of drugs and encourage safer use by working with health authorities and community organizations to implement of overdose prevention services (e.g. by identifying facilities, supporting zoning changes or exemptions as necessary, and conducting outreach to increase stakeholder support).