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.
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.
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.
Surveillance & Alerts
Hamilton Public Health Services is collaborating with Hamilton Paramedic Services, Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and community partners to provide timely opioid-related information to the public. Access the Hamilton Opioid Information System.
How to get involved
- Share our resources and campaign materials. Our workgroups have developed several resources to be shared through your organizations and networks and used in the community by non-profit, public and private businesses. Contact us about our Opioid Careful Use and Stigma campaigns, or check out our community resources at the bottom of our Partners webpage.
- Join a workgroup. The Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment and Social Justice / Justice Workgroups meet on a monthly basis and are always looking for new community members and organizations to participate.
- Join the Community Member Network. A committee of individuals with living/ lived experience with substance use that provides support to the drug strategy.
Review the available supports for family members and caregivers of people who have a substance use disorder.
Phone Call Support
Crisis Outreach and support Team
24/7 line providing confidential health services information related to alcohol, drugs, mental illness and gambling.
Warm Line - Operates 8 pm to12 midnight, 7 days per week. A confidential and anonymous phone and text service for adults to chat with a peer support worker (not a crisis line)
Ontario Drug and Alcohol Helpline
Phone 1-800-565-8603 or 519-439-0174
Canada Drug Rehab Addiction Services Directory
Finding Our Way
Learning to Live with Loss, Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice - 10 Weekly sessions
To register call Bereavement and Supportive Care Manager
Phone 905-387-2448 ext. 2206
British Columbia Centre on Substance Use - BCCSU
Coping Kit Dealing with Addiction in Your Family - Gone Too Soon: Navigating Grief and Loss as a Result of Substance Use
Grief Recovery after Substance Passing - GRASP
Bereaved Families of Ontario, Hamilton Burlington Branch
Family & Caregiver Support
Partners in Recovery (Thursdays @ 6:30 p.m.) – Drop in group. No referral or registration required
Support, information and education for family and friends of people with substance use issues.
196 Wentworth St. North, Hamilton, ON.
Alternatives for Youth (AY)
Family education, support and skills development – individual counselling and group programs
38 James St South, 2nd Floor Hamilton, ON L8P 4W6
Contact Sara McAuley
Phone 905-527-4469, Ext 8
Email [email protected]
Family Outreach Ontario
Christian Addiction Support Services
1292 Glancaster Road. Ancaster ON L9G 3L1
Email [email protected]
Hamilton Regional Indian Centre
Addiction and mental health counselors that will work with family members
34 Ottawa Street North, Hamilton
Family Liaison Peer Support Providers
Phone 905-522-1155 ext. 35599
Family Peer Support Group
Peer-led, no registration required
Daytime group – Wednesday 12:30 pm
Evening Group – Every 3rd Wednesday of the month 5:30 to 7 pm
West 5th Campus, Level 2 Room G209
Phone 905-522-1155 Ext. 35599
Family Resource Centre
Access to books, DVD, magazines, self-help work books, community brochures and pamphlets, iPad access on online and video resources, caring volunteers who also have family members with lived experience
west 5th Campus, 1st Floor
Phone 905-522-1155 ext. 39075
Family 1-to-1 Peer Support
Family peer support providers have lived experience of being a family member/caregiver to someone living with mental health/addiction challenges. Book a family peer support appointment by calling
Phone 905-522-1155 ext.35599
Concurrent Disorders Family Night Series-drop in
Last Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
West 5th in room A210
For family and supports for people with BPD and emotion regulation
12-week educational group.
No referral necessary – Registration required for the group
Phone 905-522-1155 ext. 33500
FAR – Families for Addiction Recovery
Moms Stop The Harm
Senior Project Manager, Drug Strategy
Email: [email protected]
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