Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction is published by Arsenal Pulp Press.
The grassroots story of a revolutionary approach to drug addiction that is saving lives.
While North America is in the grips of a drug epidemic, Fighting for Space explains the concept of harm reduction as a crucial component of a city’s response to the crisis.
It tells the story of a grassroots group of addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who waged a political street fight for two decades to transform how the city treats its most marginalized citizens. Fighting for Space follows the lives of two women—Liz Evans, who founded the Portland Hotel Society, and Ann Livingston, who co-founded the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users—and the extraordinary lengths they went to help their community weather a crisis.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, this group of residents from Canada’s poorest neighbourhood organized themselves in response to a growing number of overdose deaths and demanded that addicts be given the same rights as any other citizen.
But just as their battle came to an end, fentanyl arrived and opioid deaths across North America reached an all-time high.
It’s prompted many to rethink the war on drugs. Public opinion has slowly begun to turn against prohibition, and policy-makers are finally beginning to look at addiction as a health issue as opposed to one for the criminal justice system.
The previous epidemic in Vancouver sparked government action. Twenty years later, as the same pattern plays out in other cities, there is much that advocates for reform can learn from Vancouver’s experience. Fighting for Space tells that story, with the same passionate fervor as the activists whose tireless work gave dignity to addicts and saved countless lives.