Harm reduction refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce risks and harm associated with the use of psychoactive substances. It acknowledges that abstinence is not always a realistic goal for some people. It is about meeting people where they are and identifying the goals they wish to achieve based on their individual needs and circumstances.
Harm reduction principles recognize the inherent value of human beings and the importance of an inclusive community that can support people who use substances with compassion. People who feel supported and part of a community, rather than isolated, are more likely to seek help when they need it.
AHS has a policy supporting the implementation and practice of harm reduction across the continuum of care.
AHS offers a variety of programs that serve people who use substances. Keeping track of the acronyms and understanding the differences between services can be hard. Provided below is a brief description and comparison of the following:
Harm Reduction - Making a Difference in Practice - this 30 minute interactive eLearning module focuses on the AHS Harm Reduction for Psychoactive Substance Use Policy and walks the learner through what harm reduction is, why it is part of the continuum of care, and how to incorporate it into practice. It aims to promote a compassionate, non-stigmatizing and ethical approach to caring for all individuals impacted by substance use who are accessing AHS.
Harm Reduction and Recovery in Primary Care - this 30 minute module is designed for primary care physicians and other practitioners who want to learn more about evidence based strategies for supporting a harm reduction approach within primary care settings. Numerous printable resources for primary care practice are embedded in the module. Topics include harm reduction and its role in the health eco system, continuity of care, health equity, substance use and recovery, stigma, collaborative mentorship, and patient stories.
These printable information sheets address different aspects of harm reduction practice and provide support and evidence for adopting a harm reduction approach.