On Drugs

CBC Podcasts

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Each week, On Drugs looks through the lenses of history, pop culture and personal experience to understand how drugs have shaped our world. Because even if it’s just caffeine or ibuprofen, there’s a good chance you’re on drugs right now.

1:07:20 | Apr 17th, 2018

Addiction treatment and recovery is a 37 billion dollar industry in North America. Yet despite decades of research and practice, there's still no surefire way to get people clear of substance dependency. In the absence of consistent standards and ava...Show More

54:16 | Mar 13th, 2018

Before pharmaceuticals find their way to your medicine chest, they are subjected to batteries of tests for safety and efficacy. Those tests begin with animals, but eventually scientists need to try out the drugs on people. In this episode, we explore...Show More
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27:30 | Jul 3rd, 2017

Of all the reasons we use drugs, the management and suppression of pain is one of the most fundamental. And yet for all the advances in medication, our relationship with pain is still fraught with moral and chemical challenges.

1:02:13 | May 7th, 2018

Opioid drugs have claimed a shocking number of lives across North America in recent years, as people fall victim to overdose. While the intensity of crisis is new, our relationship with opiates — and opioids, as they're often referred to now — goes b...Show More

35:23 | May 1st, 2018

It's just one more week until the season two finale of On Drugs, but in the meantime, enjoy this favourite from last season. It's all about Miltown, a drug that is mostly forgotten today, but helped create modern psychopharmacology. We're proud to an...Show More
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43:25 | Apr 24th, 2018

This episode goes behind bars to learn how Canadian prisons form a nexus of drug crime, trade and addiction. We'll meet people in prison because of crimes committed in the throes of addiction and learn about how prisoners cope with addiction in custo...Show More

34:52 | Apr 22nd, 2018

A feature interview with Bill Blair, the former Toronto Police Chief now in charge of implementing the federal government's cannabis legalization law. He reflects on the transition from drug law enforcement to legalization and regulation.

32:19 | Apr 9th, 2018

The Narcotic Farm in Lexington Kentucky played a major part in shaping the culture around mid-century heroin use in the United States, as well as our understanding of the science of addiction. This week, On Drugs digs into the history of this unique ...Show More

39:18 | Apr 2nd, 2018

We're hard at work putting together the next new episode, but in the meantime, here's a favourite from last season. It's deep look at the intersection of music, drugs and creativity. Enjoy.

57:03 | Mar 26th, 2018

Host Geoff Turner is back in Colorado for part two of his road trip to see what Canada can learn from four years of legal cannabis in the Rocky Mountain State.

32:30 | Mar 23rd, 2018

We're busy working on next week’s show, but I wanted to share another CBC Original Podcast I think you might like. It’s called Personal Best. I wouldn’t be doing it justice to call it a self improvement show, because it’s a lot more than that. In an ...Show More

33:53 | Mar 20th, 2018

Cannabis will be legal and regulated across Canada later this year, but Colorado has a four year head start on ending prohibition. Host Geoff Turner travelled to the Rocky Mountain State to see how legalization looks, four years on.

35:40 | Mar 9th, 2018

In our episode on Utah, Mormonism and drugs, you met Dan Snarr, the former mayor of Murray Utah. He told us about losing his son to opioid overdose. Here's a full length version of Geoff's conversation with Dan.

49:51 | Mar 5th, 2018

There’s an expectation that members of the Church of Latter Day Saints will live with chastity and modesty in order to secure a place in heaven. And yet, Utah, the heart of Mormonism, has one of the highest overdose rates in the U-S. In this episode ...Show More

34:20 | Feb 26th, 2018

People have been using caffeine in one form or another for thousands of years. And for more than a century, people have been fretting about what it does to our health and our moral condition. This episode dives into the history and significance of th...Show More

50:42 | Feb 19th, 2018

This episode of On Drugs explores how cannabis went from unknown, illegal and vilified to the present day, where it's considered medicine and the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry.

38:53 | Feb 17th, 2018

We launched season two of On Drugs with an episode about how people are using psychedelics in search of spiritual enlightenment. One of the people we met was Tanya Kammonen. Tanya and I spoke at length about her experience with psychedelics -- ayahua...Show More

53:23 | Feb 13th, 2018

In this episode of On Drugs, we explore the connection between psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin and the transcendent feelings and perceptions that users report. Ethnobotanist Wade Davis shares his insight into the seeming ubiquity of psyched...Show More

14:47 | Feb 8th, 2018

If you've been craving a fix of the CBC original podcast, On Drugs, the wait is nearly over. Season 2 launches February 13. Here's a chance to meet the people who put it all together and to hear some highlights from the season ahead.

03:29 | Nov 24th, 2017

How Do You Sleep at Night? is a great podcast from the team at ABC about people who live their lives in the face of judgement. The show explores the different moral codes we all live by. Because no one thinks they’re a bad person, right?

33:33 | Aug 28th, 2017

The drugs we choose - legal and illicit - and the ways we use them, are at least partly determined by gender expectations. This episode explores how those expectations affect our relationships with drugs.

37:16 | Aug 21st, 2017

From athletes pumping steroids to tech entrepreneurs microdosing LSD, what happens when people use drugs to make themselves stronger, smarter and faster than their normal healthy selves?

32:09 | Aug 14th, 2017

If most recreational drug users do it because it feels good, why is pleasure always left out of policy conversations about drugs?

34:35 | Aug 7th, 2017

In this episode of On Drugs, it's the story of a very important drug that you've probably never heard of. The Drug is called Miltown and it changed the world of psychiatric medicine forever.

26:44 | Aug 5th, 2017

We explore the topic of drug addiction and how to think about it in this extended interview with Bruce Alexander

31:52 | Jul 31st, 2017

From berzerkers on mushrooms, to Nazis on meth and Iraq vets on ecstasy, armies and soldiers have used drugs to fight, cope with and recover from war since ancient times.

27:30 | Jul 31st, 2017

If you want to learn about drug addiction, Vancouver is a good place to start. The city has struggled with opioid abuse nearly as long as it's existed. This episode explores Vancouver's narcotic past and present through the voices of residents strugg...Show More

30:52 | Jul 24th, 2017

The relationship people have with drugs is complicated and a little bit messy, but not as messy as the relationship people have had with sex throughout history. Combine the two and things get interesting.

34:46 | Jul 17th, 2017

Drugs don't exist in a vacuum. In many cases, they've been used to prop up mythologies around race and justify discriminatory policies against already struggling communities.

19:00 | Jul 14th, 2017

We dig deeper into our conversation about the historical intersection between drugs and music with author Martin Torgoff.