Skip to main content

Harm Reduction Services

Information about safer substance use.
  • Learn about harm reduction 
  • Connect with programs and committees
  • Access harm reduction supplies and supports
Active drug alerts

Drug Alerts are issued by the health authorities to inform people who use drugs about contaminated drugs or increased overdose risks in the community. 

All up-to-date drug alerts can be found on the PWUS page on the Toward the Heart website.

Text alerts

People living in the Fraser Health, Interior Health, Island Health, Northern Health, and Vancouver Coastal Health regions can sign up to receive text message alerts about toxic drugs in their community. The service is anonymous. 

Learn about text message drug alerts from Toward the Heart.

Harm Reduction minimizes harms related to substance use and sexual activity. Harm reduction services help prevent HIV, hepatitis C, illness, infection and overdose. 

Harm Reduction: 

  • is evidence-informed
  • involves a range of services and strategies
  • empowers and supports people to be safer and healthier
  • reduces barriers to accessing health care for people who use substances
  • advances the health and human rights of people who use substances
  • benefits individuals, families and communities

Timeline: The History of Harm Reduction Timeline: Harm Reduction Supply Distribution 


Harm Reduction minimizes harms related to substance use and sexual activity. Harm reduction services help prevent HIV, hepatitis C, illness, infection and overdose. 

BCCDC Harm Reduction Position Statement    reduction involves a range of services and strategies to empower and support people to be safer and healthier. reduction advances the health and human rights of people who use substances.

Harm reduction is essential in preventing undue health and social harms both for people who use substances as well as BC communities.

Harm Reduction:

  • is evidence-informed
  • involves a range of services and strategies
  • empowers and supports people to be safer and healthier
  • reduces barriers to accessing health care for people who use substances
  • advances the health and human rights of people who use substances
  • benefits individuals, families and communities
  • aims to prevent stigma and discrimination against people who use substances

Due to the ongoing impact of colonization, Harm Reduction must also address and respect the health needs of Indigenous peoples.

HealthLink BC Files 

Understanding Harm Reduction: Substance Use

Harm Reduction for Families & Caregivers

Peer Workers are people with lived/living experience of substance use. They use that experience to inform their professional work. They are also known as Experiential Workers.

Peer Workers work in a variety of settings. For example: shelter and housing agencies, stand-alone supervised consumption sites, and overdose prevention services. 

Peer Workers hold a variety of roles. This includes: 

  • program and policy development
  • distribution of harm reduction supplies
  • peer witnessing of substance use
  • provide naloxone training & distribute kits
  • referrals to services such as housing agencies
  • advocacy and outreach
  • overdose response
  • research

Visit Toward the Heart's Peer2Peer page to learn more. 
All overdoses are preventable.  

Overdose happens when too much of one drug or more drugs is taken. 

This overwhelms the body and can affect breathing, heart rate, and organ function, depending on the drug taken. 

Overdoses can be caused by common medications, alcohol or substances like heroin or cocaine. Some substances are depressants that slow you down and some are stimulants that speed you up.

Prescribed medications are safer because they are regulated. For prescribed medications, the dose (measured amount of substance to be taken at one time) and potency (the amount of a substance needed for a desired effect) is known and standardized. Substances on the illicit market are not regulated and are less safe because dose and potency are unknown and can vary widely. 

The overdose crisis in BC is driven by a toxic drug supply and results most often in opioid overdoses. Learn more about the overdose response by visiting the Unregulated Drug Poisoning Emergency Dashboard page. 

On April 14, 2016, a public health emergency was declared due to a sharp increase in overdose deaths. 

The overdose crisis in BC is driven by a toxic drug supply and results most often in opioid overdoses. Learn more about the overdose response by visiting the Unregulated Drug Poisoning Emergency Dashboard page. 

Naloxone is a medication that reverses opioid overdoses. 

Naloxone kicks the opioids off the oxygen receptors and helps people breathe again.

No Liability for Emergency Aid Unless Gross Negligence.

A person who renders emergency medical services or aid to an ill, injured or unconscious person, at the immediate scene of an accident or emergency that has caused the illness, injury or unconsciousness, is not liable for damages for injury to or death of that person caused by the person's act or omission in rendering the medical services or aid unless that person is grossly negligent.

This Means: If you help someone who overdoses, you are not liable for any injuries caused by your help.

The above does not apply if the person rendering the medical services or aid

(a) is employed expressly for that purpose, or

(b) does so with a view to gain.

Learn more on the Resources Tab

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act received royal assent on May 4th, 2017. This enactment amends Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to exempt persons seeking emergency medical or law enforcement assistance for themselves or for others at an overdose from being charged for simple possession or for violation of pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence, or parole related to simple possession, if the evidence in support of that offence was obtained or discovered as a result of seeking assistance or remaining at the scene. This applies to any person at the scene upon the arrival of assistance, including the person who overdosed.

This Means: If you or someone else needs medical or law enforcement help for an overdose, you won't be charged for:

  • Drug possession for your own personal use
  • Violating parole or probation related to drug possession
The Law States

"If you are at the scene of an overdose and you or someone else calls 911 to get medical assistance, you are not to be charged with simple possession (possession for your own personal use) of an illegal substance. You are also not to be charged for breach of probation or parole relating to simple drug possession."

Learn more on the Resources Tab


Observed Consumption Services include Supervised Consumption Sites (SCS) and Overdose Prevention Services (OPS). These are services where people can inject drugs under the care of health and service providers.

Staff help keep people safe and alive by preventing and responding to overdoses.

To find a location, use the site finder on Toward the Heart and search Overdose Prevention Site.


A type of medication or drug that is often used to control pain, for example codeine or fentanyl. Heroin is also an opioid. Opioids are central nervous system depressants. They slow down body functions like breathing.



Harm reduction has many benefits for people who use substances, their families and communities. 

Research shows harm reduction activities can:

  • Create low-to-no barrier access to health and social services
  • Prevent HIV, hepatitis and other infections
  • Reduce overdose deaths and other early deaths among people who use substances
  • Reduce injection substance use in public places and reduce the number of used needles in public
  • Reduce the sharing of needles and other substance use equipment
  • Educate about safer injecting and reduce injecting frequency
  • Educate about safer sex and sexual health and increase condom use
  • Reduce crime and increase employment among people who use substances 
  • Increase referrals to treatment programs and health and social services  
BCCDC Position Statement: Harm Reduction   reduction involves a range of services and strategies to empower and support people to be safer and healthier. reduction advances the health and human rights of people who use substances.

BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) recommends against installing blue lights in public washrooms. Blue lights do not discourage injection drug use.
BCCDC Position Statement: Blue Lights in Public Washrooms

Blue lights are sometimes installed in public washrooms to discourage injecting drug use. The lights are intended to visually obscure superficial veins, thereby making it difficult to inject drugs intravenously.


Blue lights are unlikely to deter injection drug use and may increase associated harms including blood borne virus transmission, injecting related injury and disease, and overdose. They may also reduce health and safety among the broader community. 

Businesses or other organizations with concerns about drug use in their washrooms are encouraged to connect with their local harm reduction coordinator for support in implementing best practice strategies for safer washrooms. This includes installing sharps disposal boxes in all washrooms, which decreases risks associated with inappropriately discarded needles.

Observed Consumption Services Save Lives.

Observed consumption services (OCS) include Overdose Prevention Services (OPS) and Supervised Consumption Sites (SCS). These sites give a safe space for people to use their substances. The sites include supervisors trained to recognize and respond to an overdose.


This enables a rapid response to an overdose, which prevents brain injury and death. OCS are life-saving interventions. Employing people with lived experience at these services provides optimal support for people who use drugs.

Examples of programs that prevent overdoses and deaths in BC include:

  • Take Home Naloxone Program
  • Supervised Consumption Sites
  • Overdose Prevention Services
  • Facility Overdose Response Box Program

BC Coroners data shows that most of those who die of an overdose used drugs alone. To prevent death when an overdose occurs, it is critical:

  1. To provide welcoming spaces where people who use drugs do not have to be alone
  2. To offer supervision by someone who can respond quickly to the overdose. For example by giving breaths, administering naloxone and calling for help when needed.

OPS locations are often managed by health authorities in collaboration with contracted community partners.


To find a location, use the site finder on Towards the Heart and search Overdose Prevention Site.


COVID-19 Update

September 1, 2020 

The BC Ministry of Health recommends the use of a fit-tested N95 with the use of BVM. See recommendations for Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures

The BCCDC recommends against the use of bag valve masks by untrained individuals in response to an overdose event.
BCCDC Position Statement: Bag Valve Masks for Overdose Response 

Ventilation or "giving breaths" is a crucial component of response to an opioid overdose to restore breathing, get oxygen into the blood, and to keep the brain alive. We're aware some Regional Health Authorities and agencies are being asked to equip untrained staff with bag valve masks (BVM) to be used for overdose response due to the perceived risk of transmission of bloodborne infection.


If untrained in the use of BVM: 

  1. Give breaths
  2. Call 911
  3. Give naloxone instead of initiating BVM

If a discarded needle is found in a public place, contact the local health unit or dispose of the needle safely by following the steps below. 

Safe Needle Disposal - Best Practices 

Let Your Local Health Unit Know About Discarded Needles

Vancouver Coastal Health

Vancouver: Call 604.657.6561 or email

Fraser Health

Island Health

Interior Health

Northern Heath

Safely Dispose of the Needle

Following the steps below or view in in the link below. 

What to do if you find a needle 


  • Find a rigid plastic container with a secure lid (e.g. plastic drink bottle with a wide mouth, liquid laundry bottle). 
  • Remove the lid and place the container on the ground beside the needle.  
  • Do not break or recap the needle.


  • Pick up the needle by the centre of the syringe barrel with care.  
  • Use work or latex gloves or tongs if available.  
  • Always point the sharp end of the needle down and away from you.


  • Put the needle in the container sharp-end first. Secure the lid.  
  • While doing this step, the container should be on the ground. Do not hold it in your hand.


  • Remove gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.


  • Drop off the sealed container at a local health unit, pharmacy or community drop box.
More Information

Accidental Needle Stick Injury

The BCCDC and Provincial Health Officer recommend against used needle buy-back programs.
BCCDC Position Statement: Retrieval of Used Needles

We're aware of proposals for needle 'buy-back' programs, which would provide a small payment for used needles returned to a depot. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Provincial Health Officer do not recommend the use of these programs because there is no evidence that they are effective and they may cause unintended harm and consequences for the following reasons:


Increased risks of a needle poke (stick) injury  

  • There is a risk of needle stick injury to the individual counting returned needles. 

  • People may be dissuaded from using personal sharps containers so needles can be counted. This creates a risk of needle injury when carrying sharps in an unsafe manner.

Risks associated with breaking into or removing of community disposal boxes  

  • Placing a monetary value on used needles may result in people removing or breaking into sharps containers. This may increase drug litter as containers are emptied to remove the needles and can put people at risk of needle stick injury.
  • If fixed box sharps containers are removed there will be nowhere to dispose of used supplies, increasing drug litter.


  • Enterprising individuals may identify that needles can be obtained for free from a harm reduction site, taken out of the package, and returned for profit. This is wasteful of harm reduction supplies and funds and may contribute to drug litter including needle wrappers.

We recommend engaging with clients

  • Many communities have effective peer needle recovery programs. Buy-back funds could be invested in this type of program, which engages people who use substances in needle recovery and provides opportunities for low-barrier  employment. Peer workers are best situated to know where needles are being discarded, and to engage others who use needles about safe disposal.
  • People should be encouraged to take their needles back to harm reduction distribution sites/health unit where they can get further supplies, including sharps containers and be connected with other services

Programs & groups


Naloxone Saves Lives

History of the Naloxone Program (PDF)

Take Home Naloxone Program (THN)

The THN program was started in 2012 to provide life-saving training and kits to people at risk of experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose. There are now over 1800 sites participating across British Columbia. To find out more about the program and how to bring it into your community, see the Take-Home Naloxone page on Toward the Heart.

Facility Overdose Response Box Program (FORB)

The FORB program provides overdose response boxes containing the opioid antidote naloxone for employees at non-profit and community-based organizations. Learn more and become a site by visiting the Facility Overdose Response Box page on Towards the Heart.

Training & resources

Toward the Heart provides a variety of overdose prevention, recognition and response materials. The materials educate people on how to use naloxone. This includes teaching materials, instructional videos, posters, guides and infographics. Find all the resources on the Naloxone Training & Resources page on Towards the Heart. Training resources are also available for direct ordering by registered THN sites.

Contact us by emailing:

Safer sex & safer substance use

Harm reduction offers tools to help reduce harms associated with sex and with substance use.

Learn more at

Access supplies

The Provincial Harm Reduction Supply Distribution Program coordinates access to safer sex and safer substance use supplies across BC.

To find a site and access supplies near you, use the site finder.


Harm reduction supplies available include:

  • Naloxone kits
  • Safer sex supplies
    • Lubricant
    • External condoms
    • Internal condoms
  • Safer substance use supplies
    • Needles and syringes
    • Sterile water
    • Acidifier (vitamin c)
    • Alcohol swabs
    • Sharps containers
    • Cookers
    • Tourniquets
  • Safer smoking supplies
    • Crack and meth pipes
    • Crack and meth pipe mouthpieces
    • Crack pipe screens
    • Crack pipe push sticks
    • Foils
Peer workers are people with lived/living experience of substance use. They use that experience to inform their professional work. They are also known as experiential workers.

Engagement of peer workers is recognized nationally and provincially as best practice in harm reduction. Peer workers are at the forefront of harm reduction and overdose response initiatives in BC.

Peer worker engagement uses a community-based approach to decision making. Engaging community in the process is far more likely to lead to effective and acceptable service delivery. Peer worker engagement can address the equity of harm reduction services and interventions. It fosters communication, builds trust, increases knowledge and reduces stigma and discrimination which ultimately reduces barriers and increases use of services.

Peer2Peer Project (P2P)

The Peer-2-Peer project aims to identify, implement, and evaluate peer-led support interventions for peers/ experiential workers in overdose response settings.

Visit Toward the Heart's Peer2Peer page for project background, the ROSE model and best practice manual, COVID-19 support tools and the compassionate action campaign series.

Compassion, inclusion & engagement (CIE)

CIE facilitates community based dialogues across BC that provide opportunities to build capacity and develop networks across and within health services and community agencies to foster and promote accessible, inclusive and culturally safe harm reduction services through ongoing peer engagement. Visit Toward the Heart's CIE page for project description and reports.

Professionals for Ethical Engagement of Peers (PEEP) Consultation & Advisory Board

PEEP's goal is to inform and enhance peer engagement with best practice recommendations so service providers BC-wide can work with peers in their communities to better meet local needs. This board builds on existing peer relationships and explores new ways for more meaningful, ongoing dialogue with service providers and community partners.

Visit the Harm Reduction Program Reports page for PEEP resources, including publications and best practice guidelines.

Visit Toward the Heart to learn more about the PEEP program.

Note: PEEP began as the Peer Engagement & Evaluation Project, an innovative initiative to ensure everyone across the province has access to harm reduction services.

The Provincial Overdose Cohort was created to better understand the factors that lead to overdose and overdose death and to help inform programming for people who use drugs in British Columbia.

The cohort is a public health resource that consists of de-identified data on persons who have experienced an illicit drug-related overdose in B.C. It is available to health authorities and other partnering organizations to generate statistical analyses that support evidence-based decision making.

The cohort was created following the declaration of the public health emergency in 2016 as part of the provincial overdose emergency response strategy. The purpose of the Cohort is to better understand the program and service needs of people who use drugs.

The cohort includes data on overdose events, prescription medications, social assistance programs, mental health service utilization, and overall healthcare use for persons who experienced an overdose from January, 1 2015 to December 31, 2018.

For more detailed information on the Cohort, its data sources and how it is used, visit the Provincial Overdose Cohort Project page.

Overdose prevention services

Overdose prevention services are lower-barrier services under special Ministerial Order (Ministerial Order M488) under the Emergency Services Act to prevent overdose deaths in health and/or social service settings.

Episodic Overdose Prevention Service (e-OPS) Protocol

To prevent overdose deaths, episodic overdose prevention services (e-OPS) allow providers to observe substance use anywhere and anytime. E-OPS supports health and social service providers, including peer or experiential workers to observe substance use wherever overdoses may occur - not only at a fixed site with an address like an SCS or OPS.

Overdose Resource: Episodic Overdose Prevention Service (PDF)


Since 2012 the BCCDC Harm Reduction Services program has surveyed clients of harm reduction supply distribution sites across BC. BC has an established network of more than 350 harm reduction distribution sites.

Prior to 2012, knowledge about high-risk drug use was based primarily on data from two major cities, Vancouver and Victoria. The Harm Reduction Client Survey was introduced to obtain more comprehensive and province-wide information about drug use, related harms, stigma, and access to harm reduction services.

Data from the survey is used to inform harm reduction planning, confirm emerging issues, and to evaluate and improve quality of harm reduction services.

Findings and knowledge summaries for each year the survey was administered are published on the Harm Reduction Client Survey page.


BCCDC, Providence Health Care, and Health Canada are piloting an intervention program that will provide low-barrier access to a safer, predictable supply of oral hydromorphone for people at risk of overdose.

This program will complement currently available services. It will help create a bridge to treatment by enabling people at high risk of overdose to come out of isolation and access other harm reduction services.

Results from the evaluation will be published here when available.


The BC Drug Overdose and Alert Partnership (DOAP) is a multi-sectoral committee that was established to prevent and reduce the harms associated with substance use. The group identifies and disseminates timely information about harms related to substance use including overdose, adverse reactions to contaminated products, and other emerging issues.

DOAP is chaired by the harm reduction medical lead at the BC Centre for Disease Control. Member agencies include:

  • Provincial Health Service Authority agencies:
    • BC Centre for Disease Control
    • BC Emergency Health Services
    • BC Drug and Poison Information Centre
  • BC Provincial Toxicology Centre
  • BC Centre for Excellence HIV/AIDS
  • BC Coroners Service
  • BC Regional Health Authorities
  • BC Ministry of Health
  • Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research
  • First Nations Health Authority
  • Health Canada Drug Analysis Service
  • Various law enforcement agencies in BC
  • Peer organizations

The British Columbia Harm Reduction Strategies and Services (HRSS) Committee provides the structure to facilitate coordination between the Ministry of Health, PHSA, the First Nations Health Authority and the five regional health authorities, and other key stakeholders in work related to harm reduction in BC.

HRSS Committee Terms of Reference (Sept 2012) (PDF)


Stack of Naloxone supplies

Access supplies & supports

BC health authorities are all working on overdose response

First Nations Health Authority

Overdose prevention information for First Nations.

Fraser Health Authority

Overdose prevention and response.

Interior Health Authority

Public health overdose emergency.

Northern Health Authority

Overdose prevention.

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

Overdose prevention & response.

Vancouver Island Health Authority

Overdose prevention.


To find a site and access supplies near you, use the site finder on Toward the Heart.


Harm reduction supplies available include:

  • Naloxone kits
  • Safer sex supplies
    • Lubricant
    • External condoms
    • Internal condom
  • Safer substance use supplies
    • Needles and syringes
    • Sterile water
    • Acidifer (vitamin c)
    • Alcohol swabs
    • Sharps containers
    • Cookers
    • Tourniquets
  • Safer smoking supplies
    • Crack and meth pipes
    • Crack and meth pipe mouthpieces
    • Crack pipe screens
    • Crack pipe push sticks
    • Foils

Overdose Prevention Sites are locations where people can use drugs under supervision by trained staff who can provide emergency response services if necessary.

To find a location, use the site finder on Toward the Heart and search Overdose Prevention Site.


Wallet card: Sign up for toxic drug alerts

Toward the Heart has a new drug alert service. You can sign up to receive anonymous toxic drug and health alerts by text.

Text message alerts are currently available for people in the Fraser Health, Interior Health, Island Health, Northern Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. The service will be expanded to other regions of the province.

The service provides free, real-time text messaging for anyone to receive toxic drug alerts or share information about toxic drugs in their community. This service is anonymous.

Learn about text message drug alerts

Communicating drug alerts

Tips for informing people who use drugs about adverse drug events

‎Care must be taken when advising people who use substance about adulterants or changes in potency of street drugs. The following recommendations stem from discussions with people who use substances and health service providers.

Communicating Drug Alerts Guideline Document (PDF, Nov 2016)

Safer sex & substance use guidance

Safer tablet injecting

A resource for anyone who is injecting tablet medications (pills) and would like to do so more safely.

Safer Tablet Injecting Resource: English version (PDF) | Safer Tablet Injecting Resource: French version (PDF).

How to filter tablet medications for injecting

Safer tablet injecting video series.

Safer Tablet injecting video series

Safer Injecting brochure

Prepared by the Needle Exchange Program and Vancuver Coastal Health.

Safer Injecting brochure


Safer smoking supplies

Two page information sheet

Safer smoking supplies information sheet

Safer Smoking brochure

Prepared by the Needle Exchange Program and Vancuver Coastal Health.

Safer Smoking brochure

SmartSexResource is a provincial sexual health website, offering comprehensive information, education and resources on sexually transmitted infections, trends and more.

>More on safer sex and substance use can be found on

Learn more

Toward the Heart is the BCCDC's main harm reduction website

The website features various supports including:

  • Registered sites support: Materials for harm reduction, take-home naloxone and facility overdose response sites registered in one of our programs, as well as how to become a registered site
  • Health professional resources: Information sheets, best practice, policies and procedures, guidelines and recommendations, and reports and research
  • Staff area: Secure area for members of the Drug Overdose & Alert Partnership (DOAP), Harm Reduction Strategies & Services (HRSS) and Peer Engagement & Evaluation Project (PEEP) committees


Naloxone administration training

This online lesson will provide a brief overview of how to respond in the event of a witnessed or suspected overdose.

This Naloxone Administration course is housed on the PHSA LearningHub. Create a new account or log into your existing account and search for "BCCDC - Naloxone Administration" to proceed with the course.

Course details

The Naloxone Administration course is an open enrolment, self-paced course. It takes approximately 25 minutes to complete and provides a completion certificate upon completion.


The Naloxone Administration course was developed to prepare all people with the tools needed to respond to opioid overdoses.

Course content

This lesson outlines how to recognize the common signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and guides participants through life-saving skills in identifying what to do if you witness or suspect an opioid overdose.

The lesson reviews common opioids, overdose characteristics, naloxone and how it works, how to use the contents found in a naloxone kit, the SAVEME steps and aftercare. It also provides information about where people can get naloxone and other harm reduction supplies.

Additional naloxone training & resources

More resources can be found on

Respectful, non-stigmatizing language is recommended when describing substance use, substance use disorders (sometimes called 'addiction') and people who use drugs.

Whether it is used in a healthcare setting or in the news media, negative and stigmatizing language discredits people who use drugs and can result in discrimination. Stigmatization contributes to isolation and means people will be less likely to access services. This has a direct, detrimental impact on the health of people who use drugs.

Reduce stigma - Change the conversation about substance use and overdose

Use people-first language. This means referring to a person before describing his or her behaviour or condition. This is important because it acknowledges that a person's condition, illness or behaviour is not that person's defining characteristic. "Person with a cocaine-use disorder" instead of "cocaine user" or "addict."

Use language that reflects the medical nature of substance use disorders. There are a multitude of factors contributing to drug addiction, ranging from personal factors to social, environmental and political ones. Avoid terms that reinforce a belief that addiction is a failure of morals or personality, rather than a medical issue. "Addictive disease" and "substance use disorder" instead of "abuser" or "junkie."

Use language that promotes recovery. This means healthcare professionals should use language that conveys optimism and supports recovery, and respects the person's autonomy. "Opted not to" and "not in agreement with the treatment plan" instead of "unmotivated" or "non-compliant."

Avoid slang and idioms. Slang terms and idioms have negative connotations and a significant level of stigma attached to them. While slang and idioms are rarely used in professional literature, they are also important to avoid when speaking to other colleagues or healthcare professionals. "Positive" or "negative" when referring to drug tests, instead of "dirty" or "clean."


The Compassionate Action modules are a series of interactive case study videos about stigma and discrimination experienced by People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) and an accompanying reflection/discussion guide.

The videos are based on real life experiences of PWUD, and build on the Compassionate Engagement Modules.

The modules are designed to engage PWUD and the people who provide services to them, such as health care and frontline service providers, first responders, and organizational managers. Recognizing that many service providers have lived or living experience of substance use, the modules can be adapted to meet local needs and situations. The modules are intended to bring PWUD and other providers together to encourage collaboration and mutual respect.

Hierarchies of perceived acceptable substances and modes of ingestion

> Module 1

Key message: Don’t judge those who use substances. Acknowledge your privilege. Be compassionate.

People who use drugs & employment

> Module 2

Key message: You don't always know the whole story. Be compassionate.

View all modules on

All five modules and their accompanying facilitator guides are available on the Peer2Peer section of Toward the Heart. To view content scroll down to the Compassionate Action Series Module section and hit the plus sign.

Learn more


Updated April 26, 2024: The Province of B.C. is working with Health Canada to make changes to the federal exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The requested changes would make illicit drug use illegal in all public spaces including inside hospitals, on transit and in parks. These changes are not currently in effect. For more information, read the news release:

The federal government approved an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow for the removal of criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of some illicit substances for personal use by people over 18 years old within British Columbia. This exemption is effective starting January 31, 2023 until January 31, 2026. The purpose of the exemption is to reduce the stigma associated with substance use and support people in accessing important health and social services. Since decriminalization came into effect in BC, some local governments have expressed interest in understanding the potential impacts of decriminalization on public substance use as they consider the needs of their communities.

For harm reduction reports, publications, case studies and program resources and evaluations, visit the Harm Reduction Reports page.


staff member tidying space at safe injection site

Tab Heading
SOURCE: Harm Reduction Services ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Centre for Disease Control. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2024 Provincial Health Services Authority.