Harm Reduction - a Strategy of Support

Harm reduction is a strategy used to help individuals or groups minimize or reduce the effects of a behavior. Harm reduction approaches meet people where they are at, where they feel at ease and it is carried out without judgment. Related strategies are a proven public health approach which focus on reducing the harmful consequences of drug use and other behaviors that negatively affect a person’s health.

Harm reduction can come in many forms and for any age group.  If we look at the spectrum of life, the use of infant and children’s car seats, seat belts, bike helmets, sun safety, Safe Grad programs and tobacco reduction are all forms of harm reduction. 

In this context, reproductive health products such as condoms are available at our Public Health-Healthy Living sites with intent to help prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.  Public health nurses also work with individuals to decrease the harm associated with injection drug use through distribution of needles and supplies. This service is in place to decrease the risk of blood borne infections including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and syphilis that come through sharing contaminated needles and supplies. Those obtaining supplies are encouraged to return their used needles in a sharps container.

Naloxone kit

As part of the Harm Reduction initiative, free naloxone kits are currently available in the Portage la Prairie Public Health-Healthy Living office, with plans to expand this to Steinbach and Morden/Winkler.

Individuals in need of harm reduction supplies can drop by any Public Health-Healthy Living office and ask to speak with a Public Health Nurse. Alternatively, more information on this topic is available on our website under:  Public Health-Healthy Living or Harm Reduction Initiative.

Resources for hepatitis & syphilis:
Canadian Liver Foundation
Public Health Agency of Canada
Sexuality Education Resource Centre

Resources for harm reduction:
Manitoba Harm Reduction Network
Addictions Foundation of Manitoba

Video resource:
Addiction in a nutshell