Poster Presentations


P-11: Overcoming Barriers to Clinical Harm Reduction Interventions

Michael A. Beazely*

University of Waterloo

Interventions designed to reduce harms associated with substance use have focused primarily on people who inject drugs. These include the distribution of clean needles, supervised injection sites such as Vancouver's Insite facility, and increased naloxone distribution through Public Health and pharmacies. There are several reasons for targeting this most at-risk group including risk of opioid overdose and the risk of infection. However, harm reduction interventions for substances that do not reach the level of the "highest risk" are less well-characterized, as are tools and knowledge to manage the overlap between illicit and medically-indicated substance use. Barriers to expanding services in this area include a lack of educational harm reduction-focused resources for health professional students, limited research on the effectiveness of harm reduction interventions, ethical issues, and time/reimbursement issues. To address the lack of educational resources in this area University of Waterloo pharmacy created basic substance use content designed for clinicians and health professional students. Using primary and secondary literature, as well as peer-to-peer (grey literature) information, we proceeded to describe epidemiology, patterns of use, pharmacology, motivations for use, subjective experiences, adverse effects, drug interactions, and special populations concerns for several substances. The outcomes of this approach include the production of materials for health professional education or continuing education, identification of potential drug-drug or drug-disease interactions between medically-indicated drugs and illicit substances, and provides a framework to identify opportunities for research into harm reduction interventions for health practitioners.