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Figuring It Out

Jun 6, 2019

We are in the middle of an epidemic. A war on drugs.

Experts say the United States is in the throes of an opioid epidemic, as more than two million Americans have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills and street drugs.

This is affecting the way we live in profound ways, and we need a solution.

While there are many theories and experts sharing their thoughts, research, and beliefs on how to solve this pervasive issue, today's guest is a proponent of the unique and progressive Harm Reduction Model.

Dr. Mark Tyndall is based in Vancouver where opioids are also a pervasive epidemic. Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases physician, advocate for public health and human rights.

He has dedicated his career to studying HIV, poverty, and drug use in multiple places around the world

An early advocate for harm reduction programs, Mark was at the forefront of North America’s first legally sanctioned supervised injection facility, INSITE, which has injection booths where clients inject pre-obtained illicit drugs under the supervision of nurses and health care staff. If an overdose occurs, the team, led by a nurse, are available to intervene immediately. Nurses also provide other health care services, like wound care and immunizations. Since then, studies have shown that safe injection sites save lives, reduce transmission of disease and help people access addiction treatment and other medical services. We dive more into this during our talk. He is A proponent of evidence-based public health policy and interventions, and has authored over 250 academic papers and has received multiple honors for his work.

The opioid epidemic is complex and is affecting all of us. This conversation isn’t light, but it’s important. Mark and I discuss:


  • What opioids are and why people get addicted

  • Why the way we think about drug use is upside down

  • How the substances have changed

  • Why drugs aren’t criminal but how they’ve been criminalized and why prison isn’t the answer

  • How society as stacked everything against people from recovering from drug use

  • Why safe injection sites are and how drug vending machines could be the future of treatment

  • How empathy and adopting a more human approach can play a big role in how we treat drug addiction which affects society’s most vulnerable population.