What is Harm Reduction?
“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
The primary focus of Harm Reduction is the prevention of harms associated with drug use. Harm Reduction aims to prevent the spread of blood–borne illnesses including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. Harm Reduction accepts that many people who use drugs are unwilling or unable to stop, and therefore meets their needs where they are currently at in their lives.
Harm Reduction Approaches are practical, feasible, effective, safe and cost-effective as well as having a strong commitment to public health and human rights. According to the World Health Organization, people who use legal and/ or illicit 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.
Using the Harm Reduction Approach, ‘Clean Works’ Needle Exchange Program was developed. Clean Works has been in operation since 2005 offering clean supplies, condoms, HIV/ AIDS and Hepatitis education and testing, access to free immunizations as well as access to referrals to community agencies and health care.
“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.”
Drug users 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.
Clean Works Harm Reduction Program:
- Provides easy access to information, testing and supplies necessary to reduce harm associated with all forms of drug use
- Advocates for the human rights of all drug users in order to decrease the discrimination and stigmatization of some of the most marginalized community members
- Educates and supports the public in furthering HIV/ AIDS and Hepatitis C awareness
- Creates and maintains partnerships to better protect all those living and working within our communities from the spread of blood borne pathogens
Community Harm Reduction Steering Committee
The purpose of the Community Harm Reduction Steering Committee is to exchange ideas on how to reduce harms related to drug use in our communities including the transmission of disease and the burden of illness to clients, their families and the community at large. Members of this group are involved in various initiatives, such as educating the public and professionals about harm reduction and reducing stigma surrounding injection drug use. We have members from the Health Unit, Change Health Care (Methadone Maintenance Clinic), Tri County Addictions Services, Social Services, Police, Connections, HIV/AIDS Regional Services, Canadian Addictions & Mental Health, and local community members. The CHRSC is looking for anyone who has lived experience with drug use, is interested in giving back to the community and has some time to volunteer. Please contact Madeleine Ryer for more information at email@example.com or 1-800-660-5853.
Resources Created by the Community Harm Reduction Steering Committee
If you would like to obtain hard copies of any of the resources listed, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 Harm Reduction Workshops
2012 Harm Reduction Workshops
2011 Harm Reduction Workshops
2013 - Series of Media Articles
2012 - Series of Media Articles
2011 - Series of Media Articles
Needle Exchange Program
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All Health Units in the province of Ontario are mandated under the Ontario Public Health standards to provide clean needles and syringes as well as other evidence-informed supplies. ‘Clean Works’ needle exchange program has been operating in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark since 2005. ‘Clean Works’ provides clients with free and confidential services from 8 sites across the Tri-County area. Clients can access education, counseling, referrals as well as clean injection supplies. Clean Works provides a venue where clients can dispose of used equipment safely and pick up clean supplies, in order to prevent of blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.