As the opioid crisis continues to escalate, harm reduction has become one of the most vital services at Eva’s.

Celestina, a harm reduction worker at Eva's

Celestina, a harm reduction worker at Eva’s

Celestina, a harm reduction worker at Eva’s, tailors her approach from harm reduction to addiction counselling, depending on the youth’s goals. These goals can vary from employing strategies to reduce risks while continuing substance use to pursuing complete abstinence, should the youth choose to do so.

In addition to dispensing sterile drug supply kits, naloxone, and condoms and making referrals for addictions counselling, we offer group, individual and even peer-to-peer counselling and education on safer drug use.

“We meet youth where they’re at in a non-judgmental way, building trusting relationships that focus on accepting them for who they are,” said Celestina.

“My main approach is to help youth figure out how using substances makes them feel and identify the feelings or needs they’re trying to meet through substances. The goal is to help youth understand that altered states of consciousness also exist in sobriety and that there are non-drug stimuli that can meet the needs they’re trying to find through drugs.”

During the summer months, Celestina and her colleagues are often overwhelmed by the significant increase in the cases they handle, highlighting the essential nature of their services. With the support and collaboration from her manager and colleagues, Celestina does her best with the limited resources available to meet the needs of young people.

Along with case management services, the harm reduction program offers a variety of workshops and groups, such as healthy sexuality, art therapy, stress management, life skills, and recreation. These are all aimed at helping youth who wish to find alternatives to substances as they develop individual plans for independence.

As our harm reduction program evolves, we are working to integrate a critical race and anti-Black racism lens into our work to intentionally and specifically meet the needs of Black youth, who represent 51% of the young people we serve at Eva’s.