Connecting: A Guide to Using Harm Reduction Supplies as Engagement Tools

Harm reduction supplies are an important tool to build relationships and support interactions between clients and staff. Connecting: A Guide to Using Harm Reduction Supplies as Engagement Tools provides clear and stigma-free information to frontline harm reduction workers, so that you can be confident connecting with people who use drugs in meaningful ways.
The  Connecting Guide is supported by the Connecting Poster Series. Download the posters at the bottom of this page.
This page is not for emergencies. If you are with someone who has overdosed, call 911 immediately.

How to Use the Guide

Sample Scripts

Sample scripts help you deliver key messages in a way that meets people where they’re at.


Illustration of a pair of hands preparing fentanyl

Illustrated Steps

Photos and illustrations take you step-by-step through using harm reduction supplies, so you’re prepared to work with clients.


Stand-Alone Sections

Key information is repeated throughout the Guide, so you can get the whole picture while focusing on the content you need.

Section 1: Safer Injecting

Advice about safer injecting is based on the best practice recommendations. For a number of reasons, following best practices can be a challenge. It is important to stay as close to the best practices as possible. Injecting drugs comes with health risks, but using safer practices can help reduce the risks.

Individual sitting at a table heating a cooker with drug solution to a boil, using a lighter. Table has safer injection supplies on it.

Section 2: Safer Inhaling

Providing sterile smoking supplies can prevent injuries and risks from smoking/ inhaling/ snorting drugs. These supplies can reduce cuts and burns to the lips and mouth. They also prevent transmission of HIV and hepatitis C.

Section 3: Safer Swallowing & Snorting

Swallowing drugs causes the slowest onset of drug effects and has the least intense effects of all methods of taking drugs. The advantage of swallowing is that the effects last longer and the comedown is easier.

Snorting drugs means inhaling through the nose. Drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal membrane. When snorting drugs, the effects may be less intense but last longer.


Section 4: Overdoses

Opioid drugs depress the central nervous system. They cause breathing to slow down or even stop in the case of overdose. Any opioid can cause an overdose.

Overdose from stimulants happens from taking too much drug or a combination of drugs. There are a number of signs and symptoms that could be present with an overdose from stimulant drugs.

When calling 911 for emergency help, neither the intoxicated individual or the person calling can be charged with possession of controlled substances, whether or not they have also used drugs.

The faster someone receives medical assistance, the greater chance of recovery.

Note: this page is not for emergencies. If you are with someone who has overdosed, call 911 immediately.

Section 5: Resources

Summaries, links, and additional  information completes the picture in the last section of the Guide.

Cover of the Connecting Manual featuring two people sitting around a circular table with harm reduction supplies on it

Download your copy of

Connecting: A Guide to Using Harm Reduction Supplies as Engagement Tools was developed to support frontline workers in their day to day work. It was developed based on focus group consultations across Ontario and the Best Practice Recommendations for Canadian Harm Reduction Programs.

This is a project of the Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program, in partnership with the Ontario Harm Reduction Network. We are grateful for the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and of the AIDS and Hepatitis C Programs, Ontario Ministry of Health.

This Guide is dedicated to all the individuals who have trusted frontline workers in sharing their experiences. Through these connections and relationships, programs and services continue to evolve.

Get Connecting Posters

The Connecting poster series can help raise awareness about harm reduction supplies where you are. Download the pack or individual posters to print. Posters are in PDF format, the size is 8.5 by 11 inches.

Copyright © 2021 Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program (OHRDP)
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher.

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