"We value health. We value human rights. We value harm reduction."
- International Harm Reduction Association
What is Harm Reduction?
According to the International Harm Reduction Association, harm reduction refers to “policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of legal and illicit psychoactive drugs without necessarily reducing drug consumption.” (International Harm Reduction Association, 2014)
Harm reduction programs work to prevent the harms associated with drug use, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and other bacterial infections. Along with reducing these harms, harm reduction programs also provide education, counselling and referrals to clients.
Does the Health Unit have a Harm Reduction Program?
All health units must provide harm reduction services to their communities based on the Ontario Public Health Standards (2008). Smart Works, formerly called Clean Works is the name of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit harm reduction program. It began in 2005 and now has 6 Health Unit Smart Works service sites and 5 satellite Smart Works sites, including a mobile unit.
Smart Works offers 3 programs;
"To provide a non-judgmental, safe and caring venue, where injection drug users, their friends and/ or families have access to vital services and support based on sound evidence and best practices."
People who use drugs are able to attain optimal health when they have access to accurate and up to date information, access to services, and are involved in the decision making processes that will allow them to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
What Does a Harm Reduction Approach Mean to Us?
- We accept that abstinence from drugs does not work for everyone. We meet people where they are at.
- We believe people who use drugs do not forfeit their human rights, including the right to: the highest attainable standard of health, social services, work, benefit from scientific progress, freedom from arbitrary detention and freedom from cruel inhumane and degrading treatment (International Harm Reduction, 2014).
- We believe that small, positive changes are significant.
- We provide non-judgmental, respectful and confidential care to all of our clients.
- We believe that every person is important and has meaningful experiences and stories that contribute to our community.
Smart Works Resources
The Smart Works program at the health unit publishes a quarterly newsletter to communicate current events and health care messages to clients. You can see our Headspace articles below:
Harm Reduction Presentations
Below is a list of presentations about harm reduction created by the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health unit and some of our community partners. More recent information may be available.
- World Hepatitis Day; an article by the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health unit about World Hepatitis day which answers the question of what Hepatitis is and the difference between Hepatitis B and C.
- Introduction to Harm Reduction Approaches Article; a brief introduction by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health regarding the harm reduction approach.
- My Struggles with Addiction; a personal story about struggles with an opioid painkiller addiction.
- Youth Speak about Drugs; a poem and personal story written by a youth from the Overcoming Pressure program at Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth.
Drug Related Health Warnings;