“COVID just kind of opened a can of whoop-ass”: The rapid growth of safer supply prescribing during the pandemic documented through an environmental scan of addiction and harm reduction services in Canada

Original research
Glegg, Stephanie et al

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Texte disponible en version intégrale


Open Access / OK to Reproduce


Évalué par des pairs



In the context of the ongoing overdose crisis, a stark increase in toxic drug deaths from the unregulated street supply accompanied the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT – hydromorphone or medical-grade heroin), tablet-based iOAT (TiOAT), and safer supply prescribing are emerging interventions used to address this crisis in Canada. Given rapid clinical guidance and policy change to enable their local adoption, our objectives were to describe the state of these interventions before the pandemic, and to document and explain changes in implementation during the early pandemic response (March–May 2020).

Constatations/points à retenir

Data confirmed the capacity for rapid scale-up of flexible, community-based safer supply prescribing during dual public health emergencies. Geographical, client demographic, and funding gaps highlight the need to target barriers to implementation, service delivery and sustainability.

A plainer-language summary of this paper is available here.

La conception ou méthodologie de recherche

Mixed methods national environmental scan at two time points

Mots clés

About prescribers
Evidence base
Safer supply
Barriers and enablers