We Need Harm Reduction

Harm reduction sites… “I don’t want people doing drugs in my neighbourhood”. Well, the truth is people are already doing drugs in your neighbourhood so why not have them do it safely.  Harm Reduction is a set of policies, programmes, and practices that focus on reducing the negative aspects of legal and illegal (psychoactive) drugs without focusing on stopping the use of them (Carter & MacPherson, 2013). Harm Reduction focuses on education, distribution of safe supplies, and program in order to prevent and treat overdoses. It has been proven that harm reduction is beneficial and helps to save lives. However, there’s a stigma against providing drug users a safe environment. A stigma that if a person chooses to put themselves at harms risk so why should they be helped.

There has been an association seen with an increase in homelessness and drug use. Vancouver experienced this forcefully when cheaper drugs were available and there was an increase in poverty (Carter and MacPherson, 2013). Vancouver Costal Health opened up a legal supervised injection site in 2003; the first in North America (Carter and MacPherson, 2013; D’Angelo, 2017). The start of this service has been a model injection site for health areas across North America due to its positive outcomes. Many of the clients are people have been drug user for years and have developed a loving and trusting relationship with many of the workers which will then lead them sometimes to either detoxing or look for some counselling.

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Supplies Harm Reduction sites provide to users in their facility such as needles, sterile water, matches, cookers, and bands (Cavalieri, 2016)

In Toronto, there is The Works which started in 1989 focusing on needle exchange and recently has expanded to more harm reduction services (City of Toronto, 2017). Toronto has finally implemented safe injection sites in order to reduce the amount of drug overdoses and the spread of disease (Cavalieri, 2016). There needs to be a push in more Canadian cities towards Harm Reduction sites because it helps and it works. We cannot as a group understand why someone may rely on drugs, but Harm Reduction helps provide people safety which can then lead to a decrease in homeless deaths. In addition, it helps to decrease the spread of communicable diseases such as HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C. Many community organizations that also focus on Harm Reduction must apply yearly for funding from their municipalities but I think if something works then the funding should just be given. When you put positive into something you only get more positive things out of it.

Sources:

Carter, C. I., & MacPherson, D. (2013). Getting to Tomorrow: A Report on Canadian Drug Policy (pp. 41-48, Rep.). Vancouver, BC: Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

Cavalieri, W. (2016). Supervised drug injection sites in Toronto – it’s time. NOW Toronto. Retrieved from https://nowtoronto.com/news/supervised-drug-injection-sites-in-toronto-%E2%80%93-it%E2%80%99s-time/

City of Toronto. (2017). 25 Years of The Works – Harm Reduction – Alcohol and Other Drugs | City of Toronto. Retrieved from https://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=b59f2acbda21b410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

D’Angelo, A. D. (2017). Insite. Retrieved from http://www.vch.ca/public-health/harm-reduction/supervised-injection-sites

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