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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Harm Reduction and Safer Drug Use

Harm reduction is an evidence-based strategy that puts the client first, and aims to reduce social and health related harms to all people. While the term harm reduction may not sound familiar, we all use harm reduction techniques every day. A good example of an everyday life harm reduction strategy is wearing seat belts in your vehicle, and using a helmet while on your bicycle. These steps help protect you while you are in activities that pose a risk to your safety and well-being.

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Harm reduction is a strategy that can help all of us, including People Who Use Drugs (PWUD). The goals of harm reduction with respect to drug use include:

  • Creating a safe space for PWUD where they can interact with peers, social services, and medical services in a non-judgmental, non-coercive manner
  • Recognizing that individuals may not choose to or be able to remain abstinent from their substance of choice
  • Preventing potential negative consequences of substance use
  • Improving health, by reducing the chance for blood-borne and other infections (HIV, Hep B, Hep C, and Tuberculosis)
  • Keep people alive and encouraging positive life changes.

Harm reduction does not encourage or support an addiction, rather, it approaches each individual with a lens of understanding. Harm reduction has aim to minimize harmful outcomes associated with drug use. Harm reduction “supports the idea that those with addiction or substance use issues should be treated with dignity and respect and have a wide selection of… options to make an informed decision about their individual needs and what would be the most effective for them, while also reducing the harms,” (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2022).

If you must use drugs alone, use an overdose prevention service such as the National Overdose Prevention Services 1-888-688-NORS(6677)  or Grenfell Ministries – Overdose Prevention Line. NORS also provides information about several other crisis lines at www.nors.ca.

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a fall COVID-19 bivalent booster dose 6 mo after previous COVID-19 vaccine regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit Ontario.ca/page/public-health-measures-and-advice.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.