Many activities in life involve some level of risk, but there are ways to reduce the potential harm associated with these types of activities.
It’s called harm reduction, and it’s about keeping yourself and others safer when doing things that involve risk.
For example, using safer sex supplies like condoms reduce the risk of contracting and spreading Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). As well, following lower risk drinking guidelines can reduce the short and long term effects of alcohol use, like alcohol-related injury and cancer.
When it comes to substance use, harm reduction strategies and services saves lives. Harm reduction prevents substance use-related harms, including overdose. It also includes things like sterile needle distribution which helps curb the spread of infections, like HIV and Hepatitis C.
Harm reduction meets people where they are in life and can be a stepping-stone in their recovery journey.
If you or someone you know uses drugs, stay safer by:
- Learning the steps for safer substance use.
- Using safer substance use supplies like sterile needles.
- Carrying naloxone and using the Lifeguard App.
- Visiting supervised consumption and overdose prevention services and having drugs checked.
- Finding mental health and substance use support and getting a referral to a health support service.
- Attending peer support programs run by people with lived experience using substances.
- Finding treatment options like opioid agonist treatment (methadone or suboxone).
There are many benefits of finding ways to stay safer. Harm reduction can improve your social, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It also helps you connect with others and develop healthy relationships.
Non-judgmental approaches and services to reduce harm are available to all people who needs them. These supports treat people with respect and help save lives.
For support online and in your community to stay safer:
- Find out where to get safer sex and drug use supplies in your community
- Call 8-1-1 for information on services in your area, or to speak to a registered nurse or pharmacist
Showing 8 Resources
Provides online mental health and substance use information for individuals and families in BC. The website features thousands of plain-language resources including personal stories, articles, information sheets and content in eleven languages. As well, individuals can email requests for help, support, information or referrals.<br /><br />There are also four screening self-tests visitors can take covering mental well-being, depression, anxiety disorders and risky drinking. The website is coordinated by the Canadian Mental Health Association's BC Division on behalf of a group of mental health and addictions non-profit agencies called the BC Partners.
Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service
Provides a free, confidential phone service for people throughout BC needing help with any kind of substance use concern. Offers information and referral to education and prevention resources, support groups, and a full range of counselling and treatment services. Not a clinical service.
First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day
Free access to primary and mental health care closer to home for First Nations people who have limited or no access to doctors.
Provides a free phone app that brings emergency responders to people who may be having an overdose on drugs while alone. Provided in partnership with regional health authorities and Lifeguard Digital Health.<br /><br />The app is activated by the user before they take their dose. If the user doesn't hit a button after a set amount of time, a text-to-voice call will go to 9-1-1, alerting emergency medical dispatchers of a possible overdose.
A free phone, text, and online search service that helps you find community, government and social services in your area.
Overdose Prevention Sites Listings (Toward the Heart)
Locations where people can safely use drugs under supervision of staff trained in emergency response. Services are free.
Naloxone Information and Support
Learn how to use naloxone to help stop an overdose and save lives. Pick up a free naloxone kit at a location near you.
Drug Checking Sites (BCCSU)
The illicit drug supply in B.C. is extremely toxic. Use free drug checking services at supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites.