Online Certificate in Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is an internationally recognized means of redressing the harms associated with the use and distribution of illicit and licit drugs. It helps people to reach higher levels of health, functionality, self-efficacy and social membership, and also helps end suffering and save lives.

On its most basic, on-the-street level, harm reduction is about providing services that contribute to the betterment of the health and well-being of people who use drugs, without the often unrealistic requirement that they cease their drug use in order to receive those services. Moving up the chain, this has a profound impact on both program design and drug policy.

This Certificate Program will develop your understanding of harm reduction, starting with discussions with experts regarding hands-on work on the front line and ending in an examination of Canadian and international drug laws and policies.


This comprehensive program will appeal to both the seasoned practitioner and new graduates of health or social services, as well as peer support workers, case managers, housing/employment workers, policy makers, and managers/administrators who wish to increase their knowledge and skills.

A National Harm Reduction Program Advisory Committee with participants from across Canada provided assessment and guidance in developing the curriculum for this program.

Through focusing on the promotion of individual and community health, this course will guide participants in developing a comprehensive understanding of current policies, programs and practices which address the harms which may result from the use and distribution of licit and illicit drugs.

This Certificate Program provides 117 hours of instruction in 3 courses:

Course 1 Introduction to Harm Reduction | April 18 – July 15, 2011
Explains the principles and concepts of harm reduction; discusses the types and effects of different drugs; explores national/international programs; reviews evidence-based interventions and promising practices used with specific populations.

Course 2 Harm Reduction Policies and Strategies | September 12 – December 9, 2011
Provides a critical examination of the development and implementation of policies that support or challenge harm reduction; compares national/international drug policy and the 4-pillar drug strategy framework; discusses the intersection of enforcement and harm reduction; explores the role of media and advocates in shaping policy.

Course 3 Harm Reduction Programs and Practice | January 9 – April 6, 2012
Focuses on program development as it relates to harm reduction practice. Here, participants will be exposed to a variety of harm reduction strategies and will critically examine the effectiveness of different approaches to program development and implementation.

A Certificate in Harm Reduction is awarded to all students who successfully complete all three courses.

These three courses must be taken sequentially.

Start in April and Help Make a Difference.

For more information contact:
The Division of Continuing Education
York University
Atkinson Building
Room 143
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON  M3J 1P3
[email protected]