Harm Reduction

Vancouver Island Mental Health Society employs harm reduction strategies aimed at reducing the negative consequences associated with alcohol and drug use. We also acknowledge harm reduction as a movement for social justice embracing respect for the human rights of people who use drugs and alcohol.

Harm reduction is a pragmatic response that focuses on keeping people safe and minimizing death, disease and injury associated with higher risk behaviour, while recognizing that the behaviour may continue despite the risks.

At the conceptual level, harm reduction maintains a value neutral and humanistic view of drug use and the drug user. It focuses on the harms from drug use rather than on the use itself. It does not insist on or object to abstinence and acknowledges the active role of the drug user in harm reduction programs.

​At the practical level, the aim of harm reduction is to reduce the more immediate harmful consequences of drug use through pragmatic, realistic and low threshold programs.

Examples of the more widely known harm reduction strategies are needle exchange programs, methadone maintenance treatment, outreach and education programs for high risk populations, law enforcement cooperation, medical prescription of heroin and other drugs, and supervised consumption facilities. [BC Ministry of Health]

VIMHS provides specific harm reduction programs in Nanaimo (sobering and assessment) and Campbell River (sobering and assessment, as well as an overdose prevention site).

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