Harm Reduction

The Harm Reduction Pillar provides a health-centered approach to substance use. The principles of harm reduction require that no harm is done to those suffering from substance addiction, and that the focus is on the physical, emotional and relational harms caused by problematic substance use, rather than substance use itself. Customized harm reduction interventions can meet the needs of individuals, families, organizations, or society.

This includes:

  • Taking action to reduce the stigma associated with substance use and addiction
  • Building relationships with substance consumers so that the voice of lived experience contributes to all WGDS projects
  • Advocating for health equity in the delivery of addiction services
  • Seeking opportunities to educate about, and advocate for, harm reduction approaches (clinical, policy-focused, legislative, etc.)

Examples of harm reduction include needle exchange programs, offering overdose prevention and safe consumption sites, educating prescribers about opioid substitution therapies, mobile clinics, outreach and education about naloxone kits so that they are available to anyone requesting one.