SFU / St. Paul’s appoint Substance Abuse research leader

published on March 31, 2017 by Jonathon Brown in Roundhouse Radio

The new head of a research team tackling Vancouver’s opioid crisis says our city is seeing more overdose deaths than anywhere else.

Simon Fraser University professor Kanna Hayashi was named as the first St. Paul’s Hospital Chair in Substance Use Research Friday afternoon.

She has done similar research in Thailand and says she was surprised at the work Vancouver has done to spearhead innovative harm reduction, like the Incite safe-injection site.

“I have never seen this level of the crisis anywhere in the world,” Hayashi says. “I think even more revolutionary solutions are needed to address this crisis and there is a very important role that scientific research will play.”

She was appointed by Simon Fraser University and the BC Centre on Substance Use for her work examining the relationship between substance use and mental health.

Evidence-based research that looks at the effectiveness of opioid agonist therapies like methadone and suboxone to treat addiction is the best way to get results, according to Hayashi. In her experience, treating addiction as a criminal issue rather than a health issue isn’t working.

Hayashi also holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia and is the principal investigator on the BC Centre on Substance Use’s Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study a prospective cohort study of more than 1,000 people in Vancouver who inject drugs. She also led a mixed-method study investigating drug-using behavior, healthcare access and other drug-related harm among users in Bangkok, Thailand, where evidence-based research isn’t taken as seriously as it is in Vancouver.

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