Substance Use, Overdose Deaths, & Shared Humanity: What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham

In this episode, I explore the history of substance use disorders and overdose deaths in Canada, which have regularly be presented through a moral lens. By othering those experiencing substance use disorders, policymakers have created an environment where ensuring support is available to users and their families is not a priority. To highlight the importance of approaching this issue with humanity, I am joined by Tara McGuire, author of Holden After and Before: Love Letter for a Son Lost to Overdose. In telling the story of her son, Tara honours him while also sharing their collective story. Poignant and powerful, the book shows how community and compassion are central to addressing the issue.

Historical Headline of the Week

“Death of Dope,” Vancouver Daily Sun, April 28, 1921

Sean Graham is a media historian, Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and a contributing editor with

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