Beyond Enduring: Exploring clients’ perspectives of London’s overdose prevention site

Shamiram Zendo PhD Candidate, HIS, Western University
Michelle Sangster Bouck, Program Evaluator, Middlesex-London Health Unit

What is this research about?

The research team wanted to know how the temporary overdose prevention site (TOPS) changed the lives of those who accessed the site. They were interested in finding out about the changes in site users lives, including their behaviours, relationships, feelings and their perceptions about themselves and others.

What did they do?

The team designed and implemented a critical narrative method using photo-narratives. They engaged 27 individuals who were using TOPS to participate in the research. A total of 16 participants took photographs to describe the impact of the overdose prevention site and then participated in second interviews.

What did they find?

The researchers stated, “A key message shared by participants was the sense that their lives have improved since accessing the site. The core narrative proposed is presented in a series of four themes or “chapters”: Enduring, Accessing Safety, Connecting and Belonging, and Transforming.

The chapters follow a series of transitions, revealing a journey that participants presented through their own eyes: one of moving from utter despair to hope, opportunity, and inclusion. Where at the outset participants were simply trying to survive the challenges of chaotic substance use, through the relationships and services provided at the site they moved towards small or large life transformations.” (Oudshoorn et al., 2021)

How can you use this research?

For more details about the study, visit the study website by clicking the following link

  • Building strong, authentic relationships with all involved is critical for a meaningful outcome.
  • Value people who use substances as human beings.
  • Ensure caring relationships are central in all health and social services.
  • Provide additional safe spaces for people who use substances.
  • Advocate with people who use drugs for additional initiatives that can support stability.
  • Include overdose prevention sites as one component of a comprehensive health strategy.

Open Access article: Oudshoorn, A., Sangster Bouck, M., McCann, M., Zendo, S., Berman, H., Banninga, J., Janzen Le Ber, M., & Zendo, Z. (2021). A critical narrative inquiry to understand the impacts of an overdose prevention site on the lives of site users. Harm Reduction Journal, 18(1), 6.

Please cilick the following links to learn about the journey from TOPS to Carepoint Consumption and Treatment Service: