Hamilton Drug Strategy
In Hamilton substance use and related harms have had an impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of the community. Local data reveals that there are 5 substances of concern including opioids, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamines (crystal meth). Deaths and overdoses for most of these substances are increasing in Hamilton and are higher than the provincial rates.
The Hamilton Drug Strategy (HDS) is a city-wide collaboration that addresses the harms associated with substance use experienced by individuals, families and the community. HDS involves key stakeholders and members of the community to identify and address systems-level gaps, and to implement evidence-based practices to ensure all individuals can live their best quality of life. The HDS capitalizes on the existing strengths of Hamilton’s mental health and addictions system and the assets already present in our community. The HDS will strive to provide an integrated and comprehensive approach, and to connect community agencies, strategies and programs to reduce the impact of substance use in the community.
Hamilton Drug Strategy Goal
All residents of Hamilton are free of harm due to substance use and are able to enjoy the best quality of life.
Hamilton Drug Strategy Approach
The purpose of the HDS is to foster dynamic community collaboration and action to shift the way we approach substance use disorders. The HDS has researched, conducted community consultations and built a collaborative network to engage with the community and collectively develop a comprehensive plan to reduce the impacts of substance use in Hamilton. Survey and focus group results from the public and key community partner input provided foundational priorities for the strategy.
The HDS is based on an evidence-based comprehensive approach to address the harms of substance use which includes four pillars; Prevention, Harm Reduction, Social Justice/Justice and Treatment.
Interventions will focus on supporting priority populations through the utilization of resources for the most at risk.
A health equity approach will be used to consider and examine the root causes that contribute to health and social inequities, so the residents of Hamilton can reach their full health potential.
Accountable to the community to develop and implement a system-wide response that ensures ease of access to the needed programs and services.
The Hamilton Drug Strategy will coordinate and integrate comprehensive services, programs and policies to address substance use in our community.
The Hamilton Drug Strategy will focus on achieving mutually agreed upon goals that result in an enhanced quality of life and well-being for Hamilton residents.
An integrated approach connects all partners for the purpose of maximizing efficiency and impacts of services and to ensure community members and their supports have ease of access to these services.
The Hamilton Drug Strategy will explore new and non-traditional forms of evidence-based information, actions, and interventions.
We will ensure that communication will be open, transparent and timely.
We will ensure meaningful collaboration that is fair, balanced and respectful between all partners and those with lived experience.
Our actions will be based on quantitative and qualitative evidence from multiple sources including but not limited to: clinical and population health research; community health issues and local context; experience; community needs and political support; and resources.
The Hamilton Drug Strategy emphasises social and justice principles, developing action plans to incorporate equity and social determinants of health including; equality relative to economic, political and social opportunities, cultural and ethnic diversity, and all forms of social injustice attached to poverty, discrimination and stigma. This approach is cognisant of the Justice system’s emphasis toward ensuring the administration of laws that are concerned with justice, fairness, reasonableness and a genuine respect for people.
Prevention interventions seek to prevent or delay the onset of substance use and address the root causes of addiction. Prevention is foundational in addressing substance use before problems begin rather than waiting until problems are present.
- To prevent youth aged 12-24 from ever using substances
- To increase the skills of staff in schools and youth serving organizations to teach youth about the harms of substance use
Harm reduction interventions seek to respect the rights of individuals to use substances, increase awareness regarding lower risk use, and address risk and protective factors related to harms. (MOHLTC, 2018)
Harm Reduction Goal
- To Reduce the harms caused by substance use in the community
Harm Reduction Objectives
- To increase access to naloxone to reverse and reduce opioid overdoses.
- To reduce the stigma people with substance use disorders face from the public and harm reduction service providers to improve their chances of seeking harm reduction support.
Social Justice/Justice interventions seek to incorporate equity and social determinants of health including; equality relative to economic, political and social opportunities, cultural and ethnic diversity, and all forms of social injustice related to poverty, discrimination and stigma. It is also takes into consideration the administration of laws that are concerned with justice, fairness, reasonableness and a genuine respect for people.
Social Justice/Justice Goal
- To increase access to community services for people involved in the justice system
Social Justice/Justice Objectives
- To increase access to diversion programs for youth and adults facing substance-use related charges.
- To increase adults transitioning from provincial corrections system to community support programs.
- To increase diversion of people with substance use related intoxication from emergency departments to withdrawal management services.
Treatment interventions seek to improve the physical and emotional well-being of people who use or have use substances.
To improve accessibility and quality of care within addiction treatment and rehabilitation services.
- To increase treatment service providers who screen, assess and develop treatment or service delivery plans for people with substance use disorders.
- To reduce the stigma people with substance use disorders face from treatment service providers to improve their chances of seeking and maintaining treatment support.
The guiding principles for the Hamilton Drug Strategy provide strategic direction for our partnership and our actions, shaping how we work together and with the community we serve.