Social assistance study aims to reduce overdose rate (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)

A new pilot project set to launch on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside will try distributing welfare and other social assistance cheques in smaller instalments to see if it will help the recipients better manage their money, stay healthier — and even stay alive.

The project comes out of the results of a BC study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy that found that people who already use intravenous drugs are more likely to overdose shortly after receiving their monthly cheque.

Specifically, the University of British Columbia and St. Paul's Hospital-affiliated authors of the paper Timing of income assistance payment and overdose patterns at a Canadian supervised injection facility found a twofold increase in the risk of overdose for those injecting within three days of getting their social assistance cheques relative to those injecting on other days.

Run through the Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, it is now looking volunteers who admit they use more drugs in the time shortly after their cheques are issued.

Jesara Sinclair reports

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