The Current

New podcast made by drug users aims to change how you think about addiction

Journalist and drug activist Garth Mullins says drug users are either pitied by the media and general public, or seen as scapegoats. He thinks they can offer a lot more than that, including valuable insight into how to tackle addiction crises.

Crackdown tackles drug policy by telling stories of users themselves

Crackdown host Garth Mullins listens to a draft version of his new podcast. (Alexander B. Kim)

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The creator of a new podcast about Canada's opioid crisis is hoping the project paints a more fulsome picture of who drug users are.

Crackdown is a monthly podcast that aims to explore drugs and drug policy. It was created by drug users, to tell their stories.

Garth Mullins, the show's host and a drug user and activist, wants the podcast to highlight the insight that users can bring to the discussion on drugs.

In the media, "we're either sort of scapegoated as destructive people who've made bad choices, or kind of pitied," Mullins told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"We felt like those two modes don't really accurately reflect what we can bring."

Mullins said if we listened to a wider range of drug users — people affected by homelessness, the Sixties Scoop, residential schools, or who have experience with jail and policing — we'd find they have a lot of insight on the overdose crisis.

"I think you'll hear that the overdose crisis is a result of bad drug policy, more than bad drugs" he said.

"But you'd also hear from people who have testified at the Supreme Court, testified to parliamentary committees … you'd hear of people who are really reclaiming some self-determination in their lives and the lives of the community."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Kirsten Fenn. Produced by Imogen Birchard.