Understand the facts
Decriminalization is not legalization
BC has decriminalized people who have small amounts of certain drugs for personal use.
That means people carrying less than 2.5 grams total of meth, cocaine, heroin or opioids will not face arrest or criminal charges—it does not mean that these illegal drugs are legal. They cannot be bought, sold, made, or brought into the country.
Addiction impacts all of us.
The toxic drug crisis is a public health emergency. Toxic drugs are the leading cause of death for British Columbians aged 19 to 39, and the second leading cause of death overall.
People experiencing addiction come from all walks of life. They are colleagues, partners and parents. They have passions, jobs and hobbies. They love, care and feel. They’re part of our society, and they deserve compassion, dignity and access to care.
The stigma around drug use is changing.
Stigma has a big impact on people who use drugs or experience addiction. It can isolate them and make them reluctant to seek help and support, leading to less safe use and more overdose deaths.
But things are changing. We’re working to change the conversation on drug use and help people who need it—and you can help, too.
Nobody chooses addiction.
People use substances for different reasons. It might start with a prescription for pain or a way to cope with traumatic experiences. There are many contributing factors to substance use dependency.
But addiction is not a choice—it’s a medical condition due to chemical changes in the brain. And regardless of how or why it started, everyone deserves the chance to manage or treat the condition.
Every recovery journey is unique.
Recovering from addiction is much more complicated than just stopping drug use.
When someone uses drugs, chemical changes can occur in their brain that make it challenging for them to live without substances. Stopping “cold turkey,” or abruptly, can be dangerous. There are supports available for people who want to stop using drugs or to use drugs more safely.
People experiencing addiction deserve compassion.
Tough love doesn't help. People with addictions deserve the same kindness and compassion we show others with medical conditions. Tough love can push people away, making them feel alone and less likely to seek help. Giving someone your support is not enabling their addiction. Reaching out with compassion can make all the difference.
Everyone has their own story.
Labels like “addict” can make people feel powerless and ashamed, or make people feel like they don’t deserve support or recovery.
Everyone has a right to control their own health and wellbeing, including when it comes to substance use. People may have different goals for themselves in terms of safer use, treatment or recovery. Every path to wellness is unique.
No ones chooses addiction. It’s a health condition, one with a lot of different causes and factors. Like any health condition, successful treatment or management varies from person to person and circumstance to circumstance. And like any health condition, it can be dangerous—but there are ways to stay safer and to get help.