We provide a wide variety of free and confidential harm reduction services to our clients. Harm reduction services provide supplies for safer drug injection (needles), safer smoking (mouthpieces, push sticks) and safer sex (condoms). VCH harm reduction services are a part of a comprehensive public health and addictions program that includes both prevention and treatment. The goal of harm reduction programs is to keep individuals and communities safe and healthy by preventing infections, illness and injury related to drug use and sexual practices.
- Education on safer drug use and safer sex, as well as referrals to health services, addictions services and other supports.
- Needle exchange services to promote safe recovery and disposal of used needles.
- Education and facilitates access to testing and treatment for communicable diseases as well as referrals to counseling services.
- Referrals to other health agencies for clients seeking drug detox, treatment or counseling.
This program recovers needles quickly and safely from Vancouver neighbourhoods through a number of different initiatives, including the needle pick-up hotline (604) 657-6561. VCH’s goal is to recover all inappropriately discarded needles as soon as possible or within 24 hours of a call to the hotline. Learn more about the program and how you can safely deal with a discarded needle.
The Safer Smoking Pilot is an example of one of our innovative and successful harm reduction initiatives. The Evaluation Report: Safer Smoking Pilot Project looks at whether providing free safer crack cocaine smoking supplies and related education reduces the health risks associated with using makeshift supplies and sharing supplies and whether this engages people to access health services and addiction treatment.
Overall, the pilot indicates that demand for the supplies was high and that engagement with users was positive. The safer smoking supplies the pilot provided reduced the number of injuries users experienced and clients shared their supplies less, which is important to reduce the potential risk of disease transmission.