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Harm Reduction

"Harm reduction” aims to keep people safe and minimize death, disease, and injury from high risk behaviour.
Harm reduction involves a range of support services and strategies to enhance the knowledge, skills, resources, and supports for individuals, families and communities to be safer and healthier.                                    
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A range of services is available to prevent harms from substance use. Some examples include:

  • 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

What are the benefits of Harm Reduction?

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  

Naloxone Decision Support Tool (DST)

Strategies and Services Committee Terms of Reference

Strategies Newsletter

A regular newsletter by the BC Harm Reduction Strategies and Services (HRSS) Committee

Last Updated: April 15, 2015