Flood: The Overdose Epidemic in Canada

19 - Flood.jpg


Highlighting the "province-to-province grassroots initiatives [that] provide harm reduction services, prevent overdoses, and reverse overdoses when they happen", this documentary addresses the stigma around substance use disorder. It narrows its focus on five Canadian provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta.

*talks to a lot of activists, including doctors; structural interventions/legalizations/safe supply*







Adam D'Addario



Leah Bell (and Leah Bell’s mother)

Peer Support Worker, Community Activist

07:21 I was raised by addicts. Um, my mother, she was an alcoholic, um… the most hardened alcoholic that you- you could probably find.

07:31 Uh, she tried everything that she could to quit. Um, she went to inpatient treatment programs, she brought me to AA when she didn’t have childcare for me. Um, she was also a psychiatric nurse. So, she was, um, very trauma-informed, very loving. Um, she knew all the things to say to… to hide her addiction from me as best as she could.

07:54 My father… like, was an adulterer and left her. Um, that was just too much for her to handle. Um, so she completed suicide.

08:05 And, that really started me on like, a- a mental health- a negative mental health trajectory. After, uh, after she completed suicide, I was- I was homeless… for a while. Um, and then my grandparents came and they got me, and they brought me back, uh, up here, to Canada to live and to complete high school.

08:25 Um, but I was never given, um, any sort of counseling. So, as soon as I discovered, uh, discovered… drugs, I just absolutely fell in love with them. Um, it filled a void in me that I didn’t ever think could be filled. And, I always say I never met a drug that I didn’t like.

08:45 I was doing a lot of, uh, nude modeling at the time, uh, which brought me in- into sex work. Um, I was, uh, using- using sex to pay for my addiction. Um, my husband and I, at the time, we were just partying all the time on MDMA. Uh, and then eventually, I wanted the party to stop. And, uh, my husband at the time, he didn’t- he didn’t want the party to stop. So, it ended with a huge mental health breakdown, and, uh, we had to- we had to split, and I was left with a big hole in my life again. Like, wh-what do I do now, uh, that I’m not using drugs every day?

Jessica McEachern
, Peer Support Worker at Alberta Health Services

01:02:38 My parents split up when I was about sixteen, and me and my mom moved away to another city, and that didn’t go very well. About six months after that, I moved to Van-- I went to Vancouver because my brother and dad were there, thinking that I could, like, live with them, but it didn’t go as planned. I couldn’t live with my dad… Um, so I became homeless and got into meth for about six months.

01:03:06 And then… I got pimped, [laughs] I got… um, arrested, like very-- a lot of things happened within about six months.

01:03:16 I got released out of… prison, like, jetted back here, and that’s why I had a warrant in BC for so long.

01:03:25 Me and a guy had a kid together, we were together for a few years, everything was all good, and then we split up. And then, um, within like a month after that happened, I went from zero to a hundred. I was, like, staying out for, like, two weeks at a time, like smoking, [inaudible: and this month?] crack, sex work, um… you know, extreme crime. And then I went- got… in a high speed chase, went to jail for, like, almost two years, got out… tried for about a year in treatment, you know… go back out…

01:04:02 And then kind of that same pattern for on and off for about two, three years. And then my dad died, and that was when I found heroin.

01:04:33 Heroin was amazing. Like, I’m not even- I don’t- I love drugs. Like, they work very well for me. Like my dad died, I was in extreme pain, and heroin was like a warm, they call it a “warm hug from God” or whatever. And it seriously was, like I felt… like, relaxed, finally.

01:06:05 Like, this is what harm reduction has done. It’s empowered me so much. It’s given me this, like… demanding of my healthcare and basic human rights be taken care of.

01:06:15 I didn’t even- I never… I never- I never used to feel this way. I used to cower and think that I was a piece of shit.


First Gear Productions, “Flood: The Overdose Epidemic in Canada,” Anti-Stigma Archive, accessed June 17, 2024, https://antistigma.info/items/show/5.