Normalizing Conversations: Engaging public health, public safety, and communities to build capacity for a public health approach to substance use
CPHA has been funded by Health Canada through the Substance Use and Addictions Program to undertake a project to build the knowledge and capacity of decision-makers, health and social service providers, public safety and communities to implement a public health approach to substance use.
The primary objective of this project is to build the knowledge and capacity of communities to implement a public health approach to substance use. This is being accomplished through collaboration with individuals with lived and living experience of substance use, various professionals, and community organizations across Canada.
As part of this project, CPHA has developed a national, bilingual online substance use resource centre - the Canadian Substance Use Resource and Knowledge Exchange Centre (SURE). SURE provides a curated series of tools and resources to support you in implementing a public health approach to substance use in your community.
This site aims to facilitate learning for practitioners, program planners, policy makers, peer workers, and other professionals. You can sign up for a free account on the SURE website to stay updated on new resources added to the site, bookmark those most relevant to you, and save specific search criteria for the next time you visit.
There are a variety of topics on SURE including harm reduction, resources by people with living experience of substance use, prevention and health promotion, justice and public safety, and so much more. You can use the ‘Find a Resource’ tool on SURE to browse by topic, resource type, or source.
To stay up to date on the latest resources added to SURE and new learning opportunities, sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter.
CAPSA (Community Addictions Peer Support Association): CAPSA is a national leader on the topic of stigma, its impacts on individuals who use substances or have a substance use disorder, and on identifying and correcting instances of systemic stigma embedded in organizations. Employing subject matter experts with living experience, CAPSA works with organizations to provide education around substance use, stigma related to substance use disorder and the use of person-first language to reduce stigma and discrimination.
- Role in the project
In 2022, CPHA and CAPSA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize the collaborative work between the two organizations. Members of the CAPSA and CPHA substance use project teams are committed to meeting bi-weekly throughout the course of the Normalizing Conversations project to develop shared initiatives and collaborate on resource development. This partnership is essential to the project’s goal of implementing a public health approach to substance use that is informed by the expertise of people with living experience.
Community Engagement Partners
Mainline Needle Exchange (Nova Scotia): Mainline, a program of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, is a health promotion organization dedicated to supporting people who use drugs through harm reduction programs. Their mission is to reduce acquisition and transmission of HIV, Hepatitis B & C, to increase awareness of health and social issues facing PWUD, and to help current and former PWUD through education, support and empowerment.
Manitoba Harm Reduction Network (Manitoba): The Manitoba Harm Reduction Network (MHRN) works toward equitable access, systemic change, and reducing the transmission of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) through advocacy, policy work, education, research and relationships. They do this by operating several peer-led harm reduction networks across the province that provide services, education, advocacy and events that are relevant to their specific communities.
Thunder Bay Drug Strategy (Ontario): The Thunder Bay Drug Strategy’s (TBDS) mission is to create and implement a drug strategy for the City of Thunder Bay, district, and region, that reflects the needs and strengths of its citizens. The strategy will focus on humane approaches that address the causes and effects of harm associated with substance use. Their vision is to improve the health, safety and well-being of all citizens by working together to reduce substance related harms.
- Roles in the project
In 2021, CPHA engaged with community members in either a focus group or individual format to better understand the range and availability of substance use services in each community, explore what the communities would like to see to better support people who use drugs, and identify next steps to close the gaps between current and desired states for a public health approach to substance use. This included 26 people from the Dartmouth area, 23 people from Manitoba, and approximately 40 people from Thunder Bay. In the spring of 2022, CPHA hosted knowledge exchange forums in each community to bring together people who use drugs, allied health and social service providers, and first responders to brainstorm different approaches this project can take to address each community’s prioritized needs. These forums will help to inform the future work of the project.
You can create an account on CPHA’s learning site to access free online courses.
Courses currently available from the Normalizing Conversations project are:
- Cannabasics: An Introductory Online Learning Series
In this introductory learning series, you will explore basics of the cannabis plant and products, different methods of consumption, and different reasons for consumption from a public health approach. A compilation of links to cannabis-focused harm reduction resources is also available at the end of the learning series. Completing the course in full will take approximately 1 to 2 hours.
Join us for our webinar series as we discuss current and emerging topics in substance use. This series is primarily intended for professionals working to protect and promote the health, wellness, and safety of people who use substances.
‘Beyond Stigma’ In April 2022, CPHA and SURE presented a panel discussion centered around the Subject Matter Health Research Lab’s 2022 animated video ‘Beyond Stigma’, and featured a conversation with some of the videos creators on the realities and impacts of opioid related stigma, and ways that we can move beyond it.
View other SURE webinars on-demand
- Involuntary Stabilization Care of Youth Who Overdose: More Harm than Good (Part 1)
- Involuntary Stabilization Care of Youth Who Overdose: More Harm than Good (Part 2)
- Safer Supply Would Work Well if... Findings from a Concept Mapping Study
- Barriers to Legal Cannabis Access: The Emergence of Community Based Cannabis Distribution Programs in Vancouver, Canada
- Having a Voice and Saving Lives: A Qualitative Survey on Employment Impacts of People with Lived Experience of Drug Use Working in Harm Reduction
- Gender-Informed Virtual Interventions Addressing Substance Use and Intimate Partner Violence
- Reflections on a Public Health Approach to Substance Use