Negotiating space & drug use in emergency shelters with peer witness injection programs within the context of an overdose crisis: A qualitative studyGeoﬀ Bardwell, Jade Boyd, Thomas Kerr, Ryan McNeil (2018)
Vancouver, Canada is experiencing an overdose crisis due to the proliferation of fentanyl and related analogues and novel overdose response interventions are being implemented across multiple high overdose risk environments, including emergency shelters. We draw on ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative interviews to examine how social, structural, and physical contexts at two emergency shelters implementing a peer-based supervised injection intervention influenced injection drug use and overdose risks. Findings reveal that the implementation of this intervention reduced stigma and shame through the normalization of drug use in shelter spaces, and yet underlying social norms and material constraints led people to inject alone in non-designated injecting spaces. Whereas these spatial dynamics of injection drug use potentially increased overdose vulnerability, an emerging sense of collective responsibility in relation to the overdose crisis led to the routinization of peer witnessing practices across the shelter environment to extend the impact of the intervention.
Negotiating space & drug use in emergency shelters with peer witness injection programs within the context of an overdose crisis: A qualitative study