By Fred Cameron
Drug users are likely the most stigmatized group on the planet today. Yet in a time when social justice pushes the narrative, it feels like people still need to die for our voices to be heard.
It’s 2021 and countless people with no place to go grind it out every day on the streets of Victoria, at the mercy of a poisoned drug supply. Every morning people are woken up on the sidewalk by police and told, “not here,” so they move 200 feet down the block only to be told, “not here either.”
18 years ago our founders got tired of getting pushed around and formed the Society Of Living Intravenous Drug Users (S.O.L.I.D), with hopes that one day they could stop running.
A lot can happen in 18 years. From our humble beginnings, S.O.L.I.D has evolved into the SOLID Outreach Society and is now made up of about 2000 members who know, first hand, the consequences of the failed drug war. We have grown to employ more than 50 soldiers who are out in the trenches fighting back on the front lines and pushing for systematic reform.
SOLID is a peer led nonprofit that provides education and social support designed to reduce the harms associated with drug use. Whether that means providing clean supplies at consumption sites or research associates helping to design a more inclusive healthcare system SOLID works tirelessly to assure that current and former drug users are involved in every decision that affects them. Nothing about us without us.
Countless quick fix and band-aid solutions have been offered to date but at SOLID we believe that any sustainable growth will result from community building. We have completed thousands of Naloxone trainings with individuals in our community. We offer peer support groups, education, and outreach support on a daily basis. SOLID partners in publicly accessible drug testing and safer supply initiatives. We have teams working 365 days a year providing services and support in sites across town and we provide medicinal cannabis for those who can’t afford it to lessen the impact of harmful street drugs.
SOLID Outreach Society also plays an integral role in research and policy making. We have long standing research affiliations with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and the BC Centre for Disease Control. We are actively working to further efforts to reduce the harms and stigma associated with drug use, create a more accessible healthcare system, and eliminate the needless harms that come at the hands of a flawed criminal system.
Central to our philosophy, the crisis isn’t measured in deaths. Our goal is to improve the lives of our members by offering social support in conjunction with advocacy, education, employment, activism, and by extension, community. Our job isn’t finished when someone is housed—our goal is to keep them housed, and we use that template for health and well being, employment, legal standing, and finances. The reward for leading a good life is a good life, and that should be defined by the person living it.