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Harm reduction week lifts veil on addictions, fallout and care

Harm reduction and addiction services from the college and the city converged on the first floor of the Student Commons March 14 for the Agencies Fair, part of Algonquin’s What’s Under The Umbrella, Harm Reduction Week initiative.

Organizations such as Rideauwood, Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres, and Serenity Renewal for Families along with the college’s Umbrella Project and counselling services, joined together, with the goal of raising awareness of harm reduction strategies as substance use has and will continue to impact the majority of students’ lives on and off campus.

According to the Canadian Centre for Addictions, 60 per cent of illicit drug users in Canada are between the ages of 15 and 24. While according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 have the fastest-growing rate of opioid overdose hospitalizations.

The AC Umbrella Project, along with its harm reduction strategies, have put aside “striving unrealistically for a drug-free society.” It argues harm reduction is a well-researched, evidence-based approach which helps decrease the related harms to substance use. According to its website, another example of a harm reduction strategy is a seat belt; though it doesn’t stop a car accident from happening, it mitigates the risk of injury.

With the intention of creating a safe space to discuss substance use on campus, the project has created harm reduction information sessions. Students are able to meet with a counsellor or the harm reduction consultant following an intake appointment.

Student-only recovering meetings have been created also. Self Management and Recovery Training (SMRT) is a self-help program where students are able to learn techniques to put them on a self-directed road away from addictive behaviours.SP behaviours

The project also offers online resources for students and staff to educate themselves. E-Chug and E-Toke are two anonymous online surveys tooled towards your personal alcohol and marijuana use. Once you have completed, a profile generated from your answers compares your consumption with social norms and other post-secondary school averages.

Rainydaze, a harm reduction app, students are able to play the game while also learning harm reduction techniques through three drug-themed interfaces.

Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services were established in 1976 and were a wide range of programs hopefully suited to the individual’s needs. Rideauwood offers out-patient treatment programs, meaning the individual still lives at home and continues in their day to day life while still seeking help for their addiction.

Some programs are specifically geared towards adults such as the Ontario Works Addiction Program, which helps addicts whose substance abuse has led to problems in the workplace and the Ottawa Drug Treatment Court, which is a court-monitored program specifically for a repeat, non-violent offenders.

Their youth-oriented programs are geared towards those who have an addiction and those who have been affected by others. For example, their Youth Justice Program, is for anyone 12-24 years of age and been referred from Probation and Parole Services and/or Ottawa’s Youth Mental Health Court.

While most of their services are an out-patient basis, but their Pregnant and Parenting Young Women is an inpatient program for young women under the age of 24 experiencing difficulty related to substance abuse.

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