Over the years, TRIP! has actively kept track of drug trends in the Toronto dance music community. TRIP! volunteers from SEED Alternative School are keeping up this trend with their community-based survey for their course 'Challenge and Change in a Diverse Society'. The purpose of this survey is to find out what your stance on harm reduction is. We also hope to collect data on whether you think it would benefit Torontonians (and society in general) in making better choices while partying and in turn, helping them become healthier individuals with productive lifestyles. They would really appreciated it if you would help them with their study of youth and harm reduction. Check out the survey by clicking the links below, and read up more on harm reduction below!
Recreational drug use has become a common source of entertainment and enjoyment here in Toronto. From drugs like alcohol and tobacco to drugs like ecstasy and heroin. Unfortunately, most health campaigns geared at youth are fear-based and speak only of abstinence with captions like “Just say no”. What the promoters of these campaigns fail to recognize is that people are curious and many will use drugs either way. Instead of this abstinence-only approach, information should be provided to encourage those who choose to use drugs to use them in a safer manner, thus reducing harm.
“Harm reduction” is the term used to describe the practice of spreading techniques and information with the purpose of improving quality of life and reducing chance of injury. Accidental deaths from motor vehicle accidents make up 32% of deaths in Canada in 2004 (Stats Canada). However, you don’t see campaigns that say “Just say no” regarding driving. Instead, there is a law in Ontario that says you must wear a seat belt when in a personal, motorized vehicle - this is a form of harm reduction.
Like the car drivers, youth are going to use drugs regardless whether society shakes a finger at them or not. Health education should be focusing on actually educating, rather than trying to scare people into stopping. We should be educating youth about the risks associated with drug use and try to empower them to use critical thinking and make informed decisions that will better their mind and body. The main goal of harm reduction is to lower risk levels of current drug users, as well as getting these individuals familiarized with health care services (including recovery upon request). Harm reduction education can also minimize drug misuse/abuse within society, improving over health in our communities. At the end of the day, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped and labelling people as “addicts” and “junkies” does not help the situation. When people are sharing needles, straws, and pipes the greatest risk is the diseases, viruses, and infections that can be transmitted in this manner, NOT the drugs. Educating these users on how to use drugs in a safer manner and where clean needs are available could be the way to save many lives, and maybe even rehabilitate people.