A Practical Approach to Reducing Risks and Improving Well-Being
What’s harm reduction?
Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas that are aimed at reducing the negative social
and/or physical consequences associated with various human behaviors, both legal and illegal.
Recognizing that people who are unable or unwilling to stop can still make positive change to protect
themselves and others, harm reduction focuses on positive change and on working with people without
judgement, coercion, discrimination, or requiring that people stop a behaviour as a precondition of
“The philosophy and practice of harm reduction is considered a pragmatic, evidence-based approach to
drug use, which seeks to reduce substance use-related harms to individuals and communities, without
discontinuing substance use itself. Within the harm reduction approach, the main goal is to meet a
person where they are at in terms of their substance use, at a given time. Harm reduction programming
comes in many forms, including street outreach (literally meeting people where they are at), safer
injection and inhalation programs, prescription maintenance programs (i.e., methadone maintenance
therapy and access to Suboxone), supervised consumption sites and overdose prevention sites, drug
testing services, and access to naloxone, counselling, and referrals.”
-Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Northumberland (HKLN) Drug Strategy
What sort of harm reduction service is available to me if I currently use drugs?
Green Wood, in partnership with the HKPR Health Unit, provides access to safe use tools that help to
reduce health risks and harmful effects associated with substance use. This is a mobile delivery service.
Supplies that are available include inhalation tools, intravenous tools, wound care supplies, along with
Naloxone kits and the training required to use them. You can contact our Outreach Coordinator to get
connected with this service.
Beyond these practical needs, our Outreach Staff welcome conversations about your journey toward
health and wellbeing. Those conversations may lead to participating in Green Wood’s RedPath recovery
program, referral to safer maintenance programs, to counselling services or to residential treatment
What if I don’t use drugs?
We view harm reduction both broadly and specifically, as in the case of drug use. Broadly speaking, any
activity that lessens the suffering of another person can be seen as harm reduction. For example, when
a person is unsheltered, our Outreach Team will connect them with survival gear, personal items, food,
service navigation and wellness checks. Or when a person is unhealthy for any reason, we will help them
to get connected to the right kind of healthcare, whether that’s a wound care they can take with them,
sexual health supplies to prevent transmission of infection, a visit with a street-level healthcare provider
or a ride to a specialist in another community. Harm reduction is always a good place to start.