Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is an approach aimed at reducing the risks and harmful effects associated with substance use and addictive behaviors. In programs and accommodation following the harm reduction approach, the use of substances is accepted and the main focus is on reducing harm while use continues. A participant identifies goals and desired outcomes while working with a case manager to explore ways to achieve these goals. 

This may mean permanent supportive housing where clients are not required to abstain from substance use in order to stay; in the emergency response system, “wet shelters” which do not require sobriety or which allow alcohol to be consumed on the premises. Such shelters are able to reach individuals previously ignored by the service system and start them on a pathway to housing. Evidence has shown that these approaches are the most successful in addressing clients’ unique challenges and needs; individuals in shelters without sobriety requirements have shown to decrease their alcohol use on their own.1


Learn more about harm reduction in:

Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Australia