Pilot project to pay B.C. drug users to go through treatment coming under criticism

published on December 8, 2023 by Martin MacMahon and Negin Nia in CityNews Vancouver

A pilot project that would pay people $20 a day to participate in a drug treatment program out of St. Paul’s Hospital’s Road to Recovery Program is coming under criticism from an advocate in the field.

Tyson Singh Kelsall, a Downtown Eastside social worker and health sciences PhD student at SFU, says he fears the project — which is set to begin in 2024 and aims to expand addiction services to meet increasing demands — can actually further endanger drug users, because once people finish inpatient programs, they are even more susceptible to the toxic street supply.

“Ultimately, what we’re seeing right now in emerging research … in the era of the toxic drug supply is that these inpatient programs actually increase people’s risk of death and overdose,” he said.

That, he explains, is because the people going into these programs come out with a lower tolerance to drugs. If they use the same amount of drugs after leaving treatment as they did before they started the program, it can lead to deadly outcomes…

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