Dr. Jaime Arredondo

Dr. Jaime Arredondo

Dr. Jaime Arredondo Sanchez Lira is the new Canada Research Chair in Substance Use and Health Policy Research. He is an assistant professor at the School of Public Health and Social Policy and scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. He holds a PhD in Global Public Health from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University and a Masters in Latin American Studies from UCSD.

Dr. Arredondo first came to British Columbia for a post-doctoral fellowship with the BC Centre on Substance Use that looked at the evaluation and implementation of a drug-checking project pilot program. Before his transition to UVic, Dr. Arredondo was an Associate Professor at the Drug Policy Program of the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Aguascalientes, Mexico. His current work near the Mexico-US border includes helping establish supervised consumption sites, including Latin America’s first supervised consumption site and the fourth in the world exclusively for women. He is also implementing Mexico’s first fentanyl detection system and develop community responses to overdoses in the Baja California US/Mex border.

As a Mexican Citizen, he has lived first-hand the negative consequences of the criminalization of substance use. His personal experience around substance use problems, violence and police abuse have led him to directly involve people with lived experience in the development of harm reduction interventions that can improve community health disparities. It has also led him to foster a teaching and mentoring environment that is respectful of underrepresented minorities, indigenous people, substance users and women.

His CRC research at UVic will look to modify and implement innovative harm reduction interventions that can be undertaken in diverse settings, like community drug checking, safe consumption services and overdose prevention programs. While these interventions are well established in the Canadian setting, particularly British Columbia, implementation in under-resourced settings like Latin America remains limited. While Canada and Mexico have different access to resources to support harm reduction programs at a community level, there are common stories of progress that can be shared between communities of practice. Both countries are linked within the political economy of drug markets in North America, one as a producer and exporter, and the other one as a destination for substances. For example, the understanding of local supplies through drug checking programs could allow us to develop dynamic strategies to prevent overdoses in both countries.

His CRC work at CISUR has the potential to bring innovation and international collaborations to UVic, and enrich the training of future Canadian researchers, with a global and intersectional perspective. By forging research collaborations with civil society and academic partners at the local level, he seeks to bring together a “BAJA-B.C” vision around substance use problems. Ultimately, his program of research seeks to raise awareness about the need for a common responsibility in dealing with substance use harms in our countries, and help improve the lives of people who use substances.