Key Issue: Substance Use

Factors that Contribute to Addiction: Trauma and Abuse, unstable family, Ethnicity, Genetics, Peer Pressure, Social Environment, Gender, Poor Social Skills, Mental Illness
  • Lack of diversity in services available to people who use drugs & better understanding current services 
  • Considering impacts of language: addiction, stigma, harm reduction 
  • This plan puts into action the ‘intended impacts’ developed in 2019 by the Substance Use Roundtable.

These goals and actions were developed collaboratively by the Northside Rising Substance Use Roundtable, a multi-sector community group that has been meeting since January 2019. Reducing stigma of people who use drugs, creating supportive communities for people who use drugs, and increasing a sense of community pride are among the long-term goals of the Substance Use Action Plan. 


Rising Tide Festival

Changing the Community Narrative around Substance use   

In 2019, we hosted 4 events that were co-developed with residents with lived experience in substance use. The key issues faced by people who use drugs were presented at the Kick-Off Event in conjunction with music, art, and poetry. 

  • Trauma and Abuse 
  • Lack of social and community support
  • How criminalization affects folks opportunities to reintegrate into society 
  • Resources in the community, gaps of what is needed, and how community members can help 

Other Rising Tide Festival events: 

WATCH: It Takes a Community to See Through the Fog of Drugs – Dr. Margaret Dechman

WATCH: Cape Fear – Dr. Ed Michalik

Read more info about the panel discussion: ‘Substance Use in Our Community & How to Move Forward’ and view the recording here.


Data Working Group 

This group supports the action of other initiatives by leading primary research in hope and agency on the Northside. For more information about research, check out the Research & Evaluation page

Nested Initiatives

Northside Rising supports nested initiatives working on projects that contribute to shared community goals in the area of substance use. Click here for more info about nesting.

Naloxone Business Engagement 

Brought to life by a group of residents concerned about preventing tragic loss of life due to opioid overdose, this nested initiative aims to increase the number of businesses on the Northside who have Naloxone kits on site and staff who know how to use them. 

Why is this important?

  •   Substance use can affect anyone, and overdoses happen for many reasons 
  •   Businesses and organizations can save lives by having naloxone kits on site 
  •   Naloxone training is offered for free through the Ally Centre 

This project is aimed to amplify the ongoing work of the Ally Centre’s Community Naloxone Trainer, extending the reach of their training in overdose reversal as well as stigma and sensitivity of substance use and related issues. 

Please connect with Natasha Rowe, Naloxone Trainer at the Ally Centre of CB to book a FREE training session for you or your group/business: 

Training is available online or socially distanced in-person as public health guidelines allow.


CAPED  – Cape Breton Association of People Empowering Drug Users  

Cape Breton Association of People Empowering Drug Users

Northside Rising supported the creation of CAPED (Cape Breton Association of People Empowering Drug Users) as the number one priority identified by the Substance Use Roundtable. CAPED is an incorporated society consisting of people with lived and living experience in drug use from across Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) which aims to advocate for services for people who use drugs that are on par with what is available nationally. 

Key Issues 

  • Supporting folks through the criminal justice system and after release
  • Stigma and substance use education for people who work in the healthcare system 
  • Support for people who are actively using and for those maintaining and moving toward recovery, including increasing access to a safe supply of opioids for people who Opioid Agonist Therapy (ex. Methadone & Suboxone) is not viable
  • Local impacts & response to Covid-19 for people who use drugs, including a rise in homelessness in CBRM. 
  • The need for a physical location for safe consumption of all drugs  
  • Lack of availability of needed services for mental health and substance use support 

Activities in 2020

  • Building community support and awareness of the challenges faced by people who use drugs, including safe supply. The first issue of our Zine was published this fall. Check it out here. 
  • Equitable inclusion, remuneration and support of people with lived experiences in community substance use work. 
  • Co-developing community standards for working together and developing approaches to meet people where they are at. 

NSR also worked with CAPED to create ‘Shine On’, an art installation for Lumiere (Cape Breton Art at Night Festival) this fall. A chandelier of pill bottles lit a Northside storefront with messages of how opioid overdose is affecting people in our community and the benefits of a harm reduction approach to safe supply. 

In 2021-22, the group plans to focus on engaging with policy makers about what supports would help people who use drugs have stable lives and working on pathways to ensure people who use drugs have a voice in policies that affect them.

Join the CAPED Facebook Group to stay connected to news & issues involving people who use drugs on Cape Breton. 

Our Stories


Substance Use in our Community: How to Move Forward

Rising Tide Festival brings community together to understand harmful substance use


Contact for more information.