Have a Harm Reduction Holiday Season


​Be kind, be safe, and help others who may be struggling through the season​​


​​​​December holidays and the coming of the New Year is often a time to spend with family, community, and friends to celebrate and share together. As a health and wellness partner to First Nations people in British Columbia, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) wishes everyone happy and safe holidays.

FNHA takes an Indigenous harm reduction approach that is culturally safe and trauma informed. Challenging stigma and walking beside people who use substances of any kind, by offering culture, tradition and connection provides relationships that are compassionate and caring. In considering the holidays, we would like to offer some suggestions that may help you, or somebody you know, in ensuring that everybody greets 2024 safely.

Get your drugs tested

If you or somebody you know will be using substances from the unregulated market, make sure they're safe and free of fentanyl or other toxic substances. You can visit a local testing site by searching drugchecking.ca.

Have a Naloxone Kit nearby

If you're taking any substances, or if you know somebody who is, please pick up a naloxone kit. You can get them for free at a pharmacy or at your local health centre in community. Naloxone can reverse the effects of an overdose of substances that contain opioids. If you're interested in learning more about overdose prevention and response training you can also take a course at towardtheheart.com/naloxone-training or FNHA's Not Just Naloxone course.

Don't use substances and drive

If you plan to drink alcohol or use substances, please do not get behind the wheel. Have a designated driver who plans not to consume alcohol or substances, or use a taxi or an Uber/Lyft. If you do end up drinking or using substances, leave your car where it's parked and pick it up the next day.

Avoid mixing substances together

If you're taking substances, stick to one at a time. Some combinations can be unsafe or outright dangerous. If you're not sure, check the Tripsit website, which has charts that you can use to check drug combinations.

Go slow and pace yourself

If you're drinking or consuming substances, go at a pace that will allow you to stay in control. This allows your body time to process the alcohol or substance and can prevent sudden intoxication or loss of consciousness. Eating food or drinking water or other non-alcoholic drinks before or during the consumption of alcohol or other substances will help your body.

Don't use alone

If you feel like you're going to use substances, try to have somebody who can watch out for you. Make sure that person is somebody you trust and has your best interests at heart. If you don't have somebody who can watch out, try and use a supervised consumption site if one is available in your region, or one of the safe-using apps like Lifeguard or Brave.

Seek help if you're struggling

If your mental health is suffering and you're unable to sleep or eat, or using substances, or feeling low or depressed, contact your primary care provider or community health centre.

If you're experiencing thoughts of self-harm or hopelessness, please call the KUU-US 24/7 Indigenous Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717.

You can also reach out to the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day for culturally safe support over the Internet.

For a comprehensive list of available mental health and substance use care supports, you may find the FNHA's Mental Health and Cultural Supports useful.

The Province of BC has also posted this list of resources. They include crisis and suicide helplines, overdose prevention, services for children and youth, and treatment and recovery services.

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