Harm Reduction

CANAC recognizes harm reduction as a pragmatic public health approach aimed at reducing the adverse health, social and economic consequences of at-risk activities. Harm reduction is most commonly used in relation to public health programming with people who use psychoactive substances, but it can also be applied to programs that address alcohol use, sexual practices, cycling, driving, gaming and others. We believe that harm reduction does not require at-risk practices be discontinued while focusing on promoting safety, preventing death and disability, and supporting safer use for the health and safety of all individuals, families and communities.

We recognize that inequities in access to health care are prevalent for those who use drugs, and that these disparities are further exacerbated by the social determinants of health, including inadequate housing, poverty, unemployment and the lack of social support. We believe that harm reduction is part of a comprehensive health-care response to the health and social harms experienced by people who use substances, and that it complements abstinence, prevention and treatment strategies for substance use. We recognize that many people benefit from the use of harm reduction strategies: those who use drugs and their families, who need supportive health care and social services; nurses and other health-care professionals, who offer harm reduction as an option to their clients; and the public, who enjoy safer communities and a decreased burden on the health-care system. Harm reduction emphasizes human rights and the importance of treating all people with respect, dignity and compassion, regardless of drug use. It is a non-judgmental approach that accepts the person as they are and their right to make choices. Policies and programs must be based on best evidence, cost-effectiveness and local needs while involving the participation of those who use drugs in decisions that affect them.



Heroin Assisted Therapy

Heroin Assisted Therapy Clinical grade heroin for the treatment of complex and chronic opioid use disorder is already legal in the UK, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.  Following the NAOMI and SALOME trials in Canada, Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver, is North America’s first site for both Heroin Assisted Treatment and injectable Hydromorphone Assisted Therapy – collectively known as Injectable Opiate Assisted Therapy (iOAT).     Learn more about these innovative treatments and the positive impact they are making on the lives of patients.

Meet the experts
  • Clinician Perspective

    Meet Addictions expert Dr Keith Ahamad as he talks about the importance of Heroin Assisted Treatment
  • Patient Perspective

    Meet Crosstown Clinic staff and patients as they talk about the impact of a Heroin Assisted Treatment program
  • Research Perspective

    Meet Dr Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes, Principal Investigator of both the NAOMI and SALOME research trials