The Harm Reduction Model

Decreasing adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug use without requiring abstinence from drug use

The Harm Reduction Model

Located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Insite operates on a harm-reduction model, which means it strives to decrease the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug use without requiring abstinence from drug use.

For many injection drug users living in the Downtown Eastside, housing is either unstable or nonexistent so having a safe, clean place to inject drugs is beneficial for the community and for residents because:

  1. Insite services help prevent people from transmitting infectious diseases.
  2. Insite provides the opportunity to form relationships and encourage marginalized people to access health care services, including primary care and addiction treatment.
  3. Insite brings stability to the community by improving public order and reducing the number of injections taking place on the street.
  4. Insite services help stabilize people's health.

Meeting the challenging health care needs of clients
Insite has 13 injection booths where clients inject pre-obtained illicit drugs under the supervision of nurses and health care staff.

Clean injection equipment such as syringes, cookers, filters, water and tourniquets are supplied.  If an overdose occurs, the team, led by a nurse, are available to intervene immediately. Nurses also provide other health care services, like wound care and immunizations.

Insite also has addictions counsellors, mental health workers, and peer staff who connect clients to community resources such as housing, addictions treatment, and other supportive services.

Onsite services for withdrawal management
Insite and Onsite are wrap-around programs that exist in the same Hastings Street location.

When users are ready to access withdrawal management, they can be immediately accommodated at Onsite, where people can detox in 12 rooms with private bathrooms.  Mental health workers, counsellors, nurses and doctors work together to help people stabilize and plan their next steps.

Once stabilized, clients can move to the 3rd floor transitional recovery housing for further recovery and connection to community support, treatment programs and housing.