Episode 16 - The harm reduction renegade, Ann Livingston


Ann lives in Vancouver, about 2 blocks from Hastings and Main. She is the CoFounder of VANDU a non-profit organization that tackles Harm Reduction. She spent some time in University in her early years and is now also a devoted mother of an adult child living with a disability. She has attended thousands of AA meetings, and has powerful insight and wisdom on so many facets of addiction.


- Ann details Vandu, that has been around of 21 years and how she became involved in the drug war. Almost everyday Vandu hosts Drug User Support Groups. She explains that drug users are the experts of their own lives.

- Ann explains the theory of punishing or degrading drug users and that it has no benefit.  On the opposite side, the more that drug users see a hope for the future, the more successful they are to stop using substances.

- She talks about the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Group that meets on Fridays at Vandu as well as the Salome and Naomi programs where prescription heroin is provided.

- She discusses BC Pivot Legal Society and shares how people on Methadone won a class action lawsuit with a $5.5 million settlement. The settlement was for people who had fees for private clinics or funds removed from welfare.

- Ann and Matt discuss the Vancouver Injection Study done in the United States for 22 yrs.

- She shares about trying to teach citizenship and observing how users shift their "using obsession" when they have something else to focus on.

- She identifies 3 areas within Addiction: Income,  Housing, and Social Networking. Vandu has been in the area of social networking.

- Ann and Matt talk about the Prescription Heroin Program , what works and what doesn't.

- Ann and Matt talk policing,  warrants, and mental health/ addictions. The lack of release planning and the predictability and of the sad outcome for drug users.

- Ann identifies areas that would be helpful in Harm Reduction.  She touches on Financial Analysis, Stimulant replacement therapy,  and understanding the commonality of Addiction.


" People with no future use drugs recklessly, and that's what's causing the deaths. "

" If they don't have somewhere to land,  how can we ever expect someone to stop using drugs?!"

"People who score are the hardest working people. "

"You can't keep feeding people defeat and expect them to even stay alive. "

"The better drug users’ lives become,  and the more they can see a future for themselves,; the more courage they have to stop using."

"People thought being punitive towards those who used,  would smarten them up, help them bottom out and they'd stop.  That theory is exactly wrong."

" We have a simple goal, that is, to reduce the death and disease associated with using drugs."


VANDU Website: https://www.vandu.org/

The Study to Assess Long-term Opioid Maintenance Effectiveness (SALOME): http://www.providencehealthcare.org/salome/index.html

North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI): http://www.providencehealthcare.org/salome/naomi-study.html

Official Say Know homepage: http://www.sayknow.org/

Canadian Research Initiative of Substance Misuse (CRISM) Prairies website: https://crismprairies.ca/

SayKnow.org Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sayknoworg

SayKnow.org Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/SayKnowOrg

Music provided by Redbull DJ Champ, Charly Hustle: http://www.charlyhustlemusic.com

Matt IngrouilleComment