Changing the Story on Addiction Care

A new podcast from the BCCSU is changing how change perceptions about substance use and put evidence in clinical practice.

Produced as part of the BC ECHO on Substance Use, the Addiction Practice Pod brings clinical training straight to listeners’ ears. The podcast is hosted by David P. Ball, a multimedia journalist with 20 years of experience writing for top global news outlets and local independent favourites. Along with his co-host Dr. Christy Sutherland, the podcast covers practical tips and guidance for substance use care from both experts in the medical field and people with lived experiences.

Aiming to reach health care providers, each episode strikes a balance between clinical and everyday stories, allowing listeners to connect with the show and takeaway key clinical pearls to improve how they delivery substance treatment and care in their own practice. Episodes of the Addiction Practice Podcast have covered themes such as recovery, harms of criminalization, Indigenous perspectives on wellness, the increasing impacts on youth, and trauma- and violence-informed care.

As an award-winning multimedia journalist with 20 years of experience writing for top global and local news outlets – including the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, VICE, Georgia Straight, and the Tyee – David brings to the podcast not only an interviewer’s expertise, but experience reporting on the substance use, mental health, and the overdose crisis.

Photo: David P. Ball (centre) with co-host Dr. Christy Sutherland (left) interviewing Canadian Drug Policy Coalition’s Scott Bernstein for an episode of the Addiction Practice Pod

The balance between interview-based reporting and clinical expertise allows listeners of varying medical backgrounds to connect with, and hopefully learn from, the show. David’s philosophy behind his approach to the podcast is to create a platform for others to share their story and then to “get out of the way.”

“I consciously try to not think in the terms of ‘representing’ others. It’s about humility, and asking who or what might be missing” David says.

One way in which he achieves this is by using the element of surprise.

“Usually, people with lived experiences are pigeon-holed into talking about the one thing that they’re known for. I like to ask guests something they’re not often asked about,” shares David.

David is proud that the podcast offers listeners nuance and diverse perspectives of addiction medicine by creating a platform for people to speak about what they’re actually passionate about.

While the podcast deals with serious topics, it finds heartwarming moments and manages to feel very human. This is especially apparent in the episode on trauma, one that he says is particularly close to his heart. It showcases how many experts, as well as himself, were driven by their own experiences with mental health issues to work together with people who use substances to transform systems.

Through these stories, the podcast hopes to inspire listeners to incorporate ideas from the show in their practice.

Listen to the first season of the Addiction Practice Pod here: