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Harm Reduction Services

BC Harm Reduction Strategies & Services (HRSS) is a provincial program working to prevent and reduce harms caused by substance use.

Retrieval of Used Needles

Our work

Toward the Heart

Toward the Heart is our main harm reduction website. It features:

  • 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
A range of services is available to prevent harms from substance use. Some services are:
  • Overdose prevention and response training: Provide training and take home naloxone kits to reduce opioid overdose-related harms and deaths
  • Impaired driving prevention campaigns: Create awareness of the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol and other legal or illegal substances
  • Peer support programs: Groups for people who use substances - to improve their quality of life and to address gaps in services
  • Needle distribution programs: Distribute clean needles and other harm reduction supplies and educate on their safe disposal
  • Outreach and education: Make contact with people who use substances to encourage safer behaviour
  • Substitution therapies: Substitute illegal heroin with legal, non-injection methadone or prescription heroin
  • Supervised consumption facilities: Prevent overdose deaths and other harms by providing a safer, supervised environment for people using substances

Harm reduction has many benefits for people who use substances, their families, and communities. Research shows harm reduction activities can:

  • reduce HIV infection and hepatitis
  • 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  

Our committee

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.

History of harm reduction in BC

Our service

Harm Reduction Services is part of Clinical Prevention Services at BCCDC. 


SOURCE: Harm Reduction Services ( )
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