Harm Reduction: Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy

Evidence shows that harm reduction is a vital part of a comprehensive, compassionate and collaborative public health approach to substance use disorder.

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Harm reduction

The Canadian drugs and substances strategy supports measures that reduce the harmful health, social and economic effects of substance use on:

  • individuals
  • their families
  • communities

Not everyone is willing or able to enter treatment at all times. Until people are ready and able to seek treatment, harm reduction programs work to:

  • reduce risks
  • improve health
  • connect people with other key health and social services

Harm reduction activities under the Pillars of the Canadian drugs and substances strategy

We are reducing the harms associated with problematic substance use by:

  • working with provinces and territories on new legislation to regulate and restrict access to cannabis
  • conducting public education awareness and monitoring programs before and after legalizing and regulating cannabis
  • making it easier to access naloxone, a drug used to help temporarily reverse opioid overdoses by:
    • making it available without a prescription
    • supporting provincial and territorial response efforts by obtaining nasal spray and injectable naloxone
  • supporting new front-line harm reduction interventions to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections that result from:
    • sharing drug use equipment
    • other related behaviours
  • streamlining the application process for communities that wish to open supervised consumption sites
  • researching harm reduction through the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse  (CRISM)
  • including harm reduction measures to federally funded health services for  First Nations and Inuit communities

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