Providing safe and inclusive care for people who use drugs starts with non-judgmental engagement. This involves an understanding that most drug use is not problematic. Problematic drug is defined as use that has negative consequences for the individual, their friends, family, and/or society.

This webpage provides links to resources, strategies and tools intended to support health care providers and other staff to better meet the needs of people who use drugs.

The content will be updated as new resources become available. Check back periodically for the latest resources, and watch for more information in the weekly Health Care Connection emails.

Harm reduction - Harm reduction is a perspective that focuses on reducing the adverse health, social, and economic consequences of psychoactive drug use through polices, programs, and practices. Incorporating harm reduction principles into your work improves care for people who use drugs. The WRHA’s position statement on harm reduction describes our commitment to harm reduction.

Trauma informed care - Is a healing-centred and compassionate way of relating to people through interactions and environments that provide choice, control, and safety. Trauma can create conditions for problematic drug use, and trauma can be exacerbated by our actions in health care. Trauma informed care comes from understanding the prevalence of trauma, how trauma affects people, and putting that knowledge into action in practices, programs, and organizational priorities.

Managing difficult situations - People who use drugs may experience harm or discomfort that manifests in challenging healthcare situations. Building our capacity to prevent and manage challenging situations improves the safety and quality of our care.

Language and communication - Language matters. Safe and inclusive care for people who use drugs involves the use of non-stigmatizing language that conveys care, respect, and dignity.

Moral distress - Caring for people who use drugs can be ethically challenging for health and social service providers. Moral distress occurs in situations where you feel you know the right thing to do but are somehow prevented from doing it. Trauma and the challenges of problematic use of substances can make it difficult for providers to feel like they are able to provide good care.