About Toward the Heart
Toward the Heart is part of the BC Centre for Disease Control. We believe every person has the right to the best health possible and should be treated with dignity and respect.
What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction aims to keep people safe and minimize death, disease, and injury from high risk behaviour. The evidence shows it works and has many benefits for people who use substances, their families, and our communities.
Harm reduction involves a range of support services and strategies to empower and support people to be safer and healthier. Some examples include:
- Supply distribution and recovery programs such as for needles
- Substitution drug therapies such as methadone for heroin
- Take Home Naloxone program
- Supervised consumption services and Overdose Prevention Sites for people who use substances
- Outreach and education services to encourage safer behavior
- Peer support programs that improve their quality of life and gaps in services
- Impaired driving prevention campaigns
Harm Reduction Works
Research shows harm reduction activities do not encourage substance use. In fact, they are more likely than other methods to encourage people who use substances to start treatment.
Harm Reduction activities can:
- Reduce hepatitis and HIV
- Reduce overdoses and deaths
- Educate about safer sex and sexual health and increase condom use
- Reduce injection substance use and used needles in public places
- Increase referrals to treatment programs and services
- Increase employment and reduce crime
- Reduce sharing needles and other equipment
- Educate about safer consumption and reduce use
To learn more, please visit the the Harm Reduction page of the BCCDC website for a comprehensive list of publications, reports and other resources.