DUAL (Drug User Advocacy League) of Ottawa was founded in the summer of 2010.  DUAL’s members are active and former users and their allies.  Visit the About section to learn more about DUAL.

This website is a comprehensive resource for DUAL members and the Ottawa community.  From here, you can contact DUAL’s Chairperson, Sean LeBlanc, learn about how to join DUAL, check out the resources and efforts of the DUAL working groups and donate.  DUAL members can also access the private members-only page for announcements and community.

If you would like to contact DUAL, visit the Contact page.

Focus Group-Nov 13/2019

AidsLaw is doing a focus group on OD next week on People who use drugs…call 1 800 961 9862 #243, answer a couple of questions and you may be registered! Pays $30, plus food and bus tx

Why is the overdose crisis not a federal election issue?

Tyndall: Why is the overdose crisis not a federal election issue?


Why isn’t the public demanding action? The simple answer is entrenched stigma and discrimination, and a general perception that people who use drugs should just stop. The blame for the overdose crisis has fallen squarely on the very people who are dying.

Harm reduction, including supervised injection sites, works but more support is needed to deal with the rising number of overdose deaths in Canada. JAMES PARK / OTTAWA CITIZEN


In 2015, when deaths due to unintentional drug overdoses were rapidly rising in British Columbia, no one would have predicted that more than 4,500 people would die over the next four years. It wasn’t long before overdose deaths began to rise across Canada, with Alberta and Ontario hit particularly hard. Officially, more than 12,000 Canadians have died in the past three years and this is likely an under-estimation.

These numbers are staggering when compared with other recent epidemics. In 1995, the year before effective HIV treatment was available, 1,500 people died of AIDS. In 2003, 44 Canadians died of SARS. The impact of the overdose crisis has been so prodigious that life expectancy in Canada has actually fallen. While death statistics represent lives that are taken too early, the impact on the families, friends and communities left behind will be lasting.

As this public health catastrophe unfolds in full view, why is it not a major election issue? Why isn’t the public demanding action? The simple answer is entrenched stigma and discrimination, and a general perception that people who use drugs should just stop. The blame for the overdose crisis has fallen squarely on the very people who are dying. Basically, if people decide to get their drugs from unknown sources such as drug dealers, the internet, or a friend of a friend, they get what they deserve. Governments, policymakers and medical professionals have largely escaped any direct accountability. After all, what are they supposed to do if people will go to any extreme to purchase these dangerous substances?

What is entirely missing from this narrative is any reasonable discussion about pain, trauma, addiction and why people are using drugs in the first place. Instead of providing care, empathy and social supports, we have focused on abstinence, prohibition and a punishing criminal justice system. We have denied people basic social services and have created environments that basically lock people in. Those already suffering from trauma are re-traumatized over and over. For most, the response to this mistreatment is a spiral of isolation, despair and hopelessness. Many people see no way out; paradoxically it is the drugs that provide the only real relief.

What is entirely missing from this narrative is any reasonable discussion about pain, trauma, addiction and why people are using drugs in the first place.

While the political conversation should be focused on progressive and novel ways to deal with this crisis, we are mired in endless debates around issues that were settled decades ago. It is especially frustrating to see pushback on the programs that actually make a difference. The energies of experts and advocates are spent defending needle-exchange programs, supervised-injection sites, opioid-substitution therapy, naloxone distribution and supportive-housing projects. These critical harm-reduction interventions are proven to keep people alive and provide essential access points to care. Statements and actions by local, provincial and federal politicians that challenge, underfund and in some cases block these interventions are misinformed, punitive and demoralizing to the people who are on the front lines and actually making a difference.

Until we begin to change the policies and environments that perpetuate drug use, we will not make progress. The poisoned drug market has not only pulled back the curtain on the life and death struggles of people using drugs but has shown that current strategies are not enough. While the chance of surviving an overdose has improved due to current heroic interventions that can reverse an overdose, the risk of overdosing has not. As long as people are purchasing drugs of unknown quality and potency from street-based sellers who are supplied by criminal gangs, the risk remains high.

Federal parties must declare the overdose crisis a national health emergency. There should be clear goals to reduce overdose deaths and commitment to fund these efforts. For communities most affected, there must be detailed local emergency plans that will be closely monitored and where people are held accountable. Scaling up the harm-reduction tools that we do have must be a priority.

Ultimately what is needed are serious policy changes that put an end to prohibition and the criminalization of drug users, provide the housing and social supports that people can access, and, in the current poisoning crisis, access to a regulated and safe supply of opioids.

Dr. Mark Tyndall is a researcher and infectious diseases specialist and a professor at the School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia.

2019 OD DEMANDS!!!

International Overdose Awareness Day Demands From SHCHC and SWCHC Focus Groups

*Carruthers and Rita Thompson Residence also consulted…*


  • More full time high level Peer Support Workers in the community and at all Supervised Injection Services…


  • A non-toxic drug supply and physicians that will prescribe for euphoria, not just basic maintenance.


  • Expansion of the Good Samaritan Act-no cops allowed at OD calls and a full amnesty on warrants at OD calls as well…


  • Expanded treatment options and methadone dosing that addresses the significant tolerance that many consumers face…


  • The end of fear mongering and shame inducing stigma towards people who use drugs and more harm reduction education and services at schools of all grades and levels…




“Blue Roses” in Ottawa!!!

Blue Roses is an inspiring documentary film about Bob Jamison and other frontline community health workers who provide care for Ottawa’s inner-city rooming house residents, who often face poverty, addiction and mental illness. In the process, they challenge our conventional understanding of palliative (end of life) care. Blue Roses provides a fascinating and poignant look at life in rooming houses and the difficulties in providing palliative care to this invisible community. It captures the compelling, and often heart breaking, challenges that Bob and others with lived experience face in bringing loving kindness and a voice to their community.

Attend a free screening of the documentary Blue Roses, followed by an informative discussion involving people with lived experience, frontline health workers and city councillor(s) about rooming houses and palliative care for people experiencing poverty, mental illness and addictions.

Presented by Kublacom Pictures, in association with Ottawa Inner City Health and One World Arts

This is a FREE event, but donations at the door are very welcome. Donations will be used to support health and wellness initiatives for frontline community health workers.

EventBrite page for the event: Blue Roses documentary screening unnamed-1-1024x575

Opioid Conference in Ottawa

the ottawa
on Opioids, Substance Use and Mental Health
Thursday, February 7, 2019
8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Dr., Ottawa
Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz, President and CEO of The Royal
and Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa
Public Health invite you to take part in the Summit on
Opioids, Substance Use and Mental Health in Ottawa.
The summit will bring together individuals and
organizations from across our region who are engaged
in mental health and substance use prevention,
treatment, and harm reduction as well as people with
lived experience. Our goal is to develop an integrated
intervention model that will reduce the impacts of
the opioid crisis in Ottawa by giving people of all ages
better access to coordinated supports.
During this interactive event, we will use a consensus
building process to inform and prioritize future
action on opioid use in Ottawa. Our discussions will
centre around three main themes, each featuring a
presentation followed by a roundtable discussion. The
themes are:
1. Preventing stigma and problematic substance use.
2. Emerging harm reduction initiatives associated
with opioid use;
3. Collaborating and integrating across the system to
increase access and uptake of services.
We look forward to your participation in this important
CLICK HERE TO RSVP by January 31, 2019