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Kora DeBeck – 2024 Dorothy Killam Fellow

Responding to the toxic drug crisis: reframing the approach to drug policy and substance use

Simon Fraser University

Kora DeBeck is a Distinguished Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and a Research Scientist with the BC Centre on Substance Use.

DeBeck’s proposed research focuses on the toxic drug crisis and applies data-driven science to evaluate and inform public policies to effectively address substance use and related harms. The proposed research underscores the need for rigorous scientific evidence to understand the strengths, limitations, and impacts of policy interventions related to the drug poisoning crisis. The project will examine how novel and controversial interventions, including prescribed safer supply and the decriminalization of drug possession, impact structurally marginalized young people who use drugs.  It draws on data from the At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS), an established open prospective cohort of more than 1,200 street-involved young people who use drugs in Vancouver, BC.

This work supports Canada’s harm reduction approach by ensuring that emerging evidence is relevant and responsive to public policies and evolving societal needs. DeBeck has a strong commitment to addressing social inequities and promoting positive change through inclusive engagement, public outreach, compassionate advocacy, and uncompromising research integrity.

Building Canada’s future depends on developing substance use policies and programs that effectively address substance use and related harms. This work is expected to be barrier breaking as it is positioned to transform current approaches to substance use and save lives.

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