Ovedose by Benjamin Perrin
Published: March 31, 2020
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada LTD.
Hardcover 304 pages, 9780735237865, $32.00
Trade paperback, 9780735237889, $22.00
Audi Download read by John Cleland
eBook EPUB 9780735237872 $15.99
Why you might ask when the whole world is under siege by COVID 19 why is TotalHealth featuring a book on the opioid crisis in Canada? Answer: replace the country of Canada with the name of any large populated country in the world and majority of information in Overdose will apply.
Overdose by Benjamin Perrin is a groundbreaking and powerful look at the worst health crisis in a generation—the opioid crisis. Overdose is up front, tell it like it is—an honest and often gut-wrenching and eye opening experience for the reader. Perrin is forthcoming on understanding and presenting the ramifications for the rest of us.
North America is in the middle of a health crisis. The word “Fentanyl” only recently entered into common usage, and yet it has become a looming presence in news report and conversations across Canada. It is an opioid more powerful and pervasive—and deadly—than any previous street drug.
Often those suffering are marginalized people.
Consider that in 2003, the SARS epidemic killed 44 people in Canada and launched a massive mobilization of public funds and resources to contain the outbreak. Over 100 times that number have been reported between 2016 and 2017 during the opioid crisis in Canada. Yet the response has been far from proportionate. In fact, policies are making things worse.
The victims are many. And, as we learn here, not only who we might expect. They are our neighbors: professionals, students, parents, and even health care workers. Despite the thousands of deaths, these victims remain largely invisible. Overdose contains numerous interviews with many of the people touched by this crisis.
Benjamin Perrin, a law and policy expert in Vancouver, BC—ground zero for the crisis—shines a light in this darkest of corners. What he finds challenges many assumptions about people who use opioids and the factors fueling the crisis. Why do people use Fentanyl, where does it come from, and why can't we stop it? These questions and many others being asked by Canadians, are answered here in this urgent and humane look at this health care crisis.
"Vancouver Declaration on Responding to the Opioid Crisis," in the appendix was written by Perrin as a way to summarize the book's main legal and policy recommendations in a clear and concise format that could be helpful for those who want to advocate for a more compassionate, evidence-based drug policy. Perrin named it because Vancouver has been hardest hit city in Canada by the opioid crisis, but also it's the city that's been at the forefront of courageous and innovative responses to it. Included here is point 7 of 7 from the appendix:
7. Stop criminalizing people who use drugs, including:
a. Expand Good Samaritan overdose laws to include immunity from prosecution for non-violent offence and related breaches of conditions and warrants, as well as increase awareness of this legal protection;
b. Decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs;
c. Cease imposing drug paraphernalia prohibitions, which prevent the possession of naloxone kits and harm reduction supplies like clean syringes;
d. Stop criminal law conditions that prohibit people from using illicit substances ("abstinence orders");
e. End the imposition of geographic restrictions ("red zoning") of people who use drugs;
f. Make substance use disorder a mitigating factor at sentencing;
g. Expunge criminal records for possession of illicit substances;
h. Provide people in prison with equal access to overdose prevention services, harm reduction supplies, and evidence-based treatment options; and
i. Prior to their release from custody, provide people with access to a medical practitioner who is trained in substance use disorders and who can provide them with the necessary information and medications to reduce their risk of suffering a fatal overdose.
Benjamin Perrin is a professor at the University of British Columbia, Peter A. Allard School of Law and a senior fellow in criminal justice at the Macdonald Laurier Institute for Public Policy. He served as a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada, and was lead justice and public safety advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper from 2012¡V13. He is the author of two previous books: Invisible Chains: Canada's Underground World of Human Trafficking and Victim Law: The Law of Victims of Crime in Canada. He lives in Vancouver, BC.
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