VICA releases substance use in construction report

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

A report released by the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) and its harm reduction team reveals the experiences of substances users in construction.    

The report is phase 1 of VICA’s four-phase Tailgate Toolkit harm reduction initiative. It consisted of in-depth qualitative interviews with members of the Vancouver Island construction industry who had past or present experience of drug use or were in supervisory positions and responsible for implementing harm reduction measures within their company or organization.

Findings of the report highlighted the stigmatization of opioid use within the construction/trades industry, while also describing the paths which led individuals towards substance use, such as self-medication for emotion or physical pain, and the culture of traditional masculinity and the barriers it creates when asking for help.

“The testimony within this report underscores the reality that not all substance users fit into a single category,” said Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association.  “This report only reinforces the need for a multi-faceted approach to address the overdose crisis on Vancouver Island. We believe that these stories will resonate with folks in the industry, leading to those critical conversations allowing someone to seek help if they’re in need.”

The stakeholder engagement report will inform VICA’s harm reduction team as they work with Island Health’s overdose response team to implement the next three phases of the Tailgate Toolkit.

“We welcome this report from VICA, which offers valuable insights into the impact of the drug-poisoning crisis on people working in the construction industry,” says Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “We’re grateful to everyone who shared their experiences – their stories are an invaluable contribution to the development of the Tailgate Toolkit, and to our understanding of this complex issue.”

Phase two of the Toolkit will be a training course for those in direct supervisory or front-line response positions which would cover recognizing substance use/impairment, mental health first aid, mental health, and substance use literacy with a focus on having effective and supportive conversations, a more thorough summary of services available, and naloxone trainer training.

To view and download the Phase 1 report, click here.

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