‘In a way, stigma is the leading cause of death’: the radical plan to tackle British Columbia’s overdose epidemic

published on March 7, 2024 by Leyland Cecco in The Guardian

When Traci Letts finally found the perfect shoes for her son Mike – a pair of white Nike trainers with a splash of green – the store didn’t have the right size. So she went to another.

“They had to be just right,” she said. “He always wanted to dress well.” The high-top shoes completed an outfit Letts had carefully selected: a grey tracksuit with a white T-shirt; they would be the final set of clothes he would wear. “I knew he’d want to be sent off that way.”

Mike, who she remembers as the “kindest and sweetest” of her three children, died on 3 February from a toxic overdose. He was 31 years old.

Canada’s westernmost province is trapped in an unprecedented public health crisis, which has torn apart families and left nearly 14,000 people dead from tainted, unregulated narcotics.

As grief and frustration mount, two activists are set to challenge the federal government in a British Columbia court, arguing that they should be allowed to supply pure drugs to users…

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