Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Nurses speak out for harm reduction

RNAO believes harm reduction – including supervised injection – is one critical tool nurses can use when helping clients overcome substance abuse and addiction.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight in 2011, when Vancouver’s supervised injection facility, Insite, was threatened with closure. RNAO, as well as the Canadian Nurses Association and the Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia, presented arguments before the Supreme Court of Canada that supported the facility, and ultimately contributed to the decision that ruled the clinic can keep its doors open.

It was a victory RNAO was proud to be a part of.

Representatives from the association travelled to Ottawa to shed light on the issue and praised the decision that allowed Insite to continue functioning. It sets the precedent for more facilities, in the future, to begin to provide a similar service for clients who may be struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

When it comes to addiction, nurses have more than just safe needle exchange in their harm reduction toolbox.

RNAO released its best practice guideline (BPG) in 2009. It provides information about MMT and the role of a nurse when using MMT. Methadone is a proven effective substitute for narcotics like heroin.

Harm reduction minimizes stigma and allows patients to find their path to recovery.

Nurses know that substance abuse and addiction can sap an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. Allowing patients to access a safe, effective route to good health helps them to build a life free of addiction.

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