This course addresses a topic that is never settled. Agencies, programs, and individuals involved in harm reduction can always deepen and improve engagement with people who use drugs. And while this is challenging work, it's not rocket science. It is possible for any organization or individual to implement principles, policies, and practices that strengthen harm reduction service delivery by engaging people who use drugs at every level.

Learning Goals

Increase capacity of harm reduction programs to meaningfully involve people who use drugs in the consultation, planning, design, and delivery of programs and services.

What you will learn

  • Key principles and practical tips to meaningfully engage People Who Use Drugs (PWUD)
  • Relevant resources to consult on an ongoing basis
  • How your organization can begin or improve working with PWUD in policy development, program design, and service delivery
  • How involving PWUD can lead to relevant services and greater engagement with service users, while building the capacity of all involved


What you need to know, at a glance.

  • Time Commitment

    1 - 2 hours

  • Date Created

    Course created in 2022, based on a webinar from 2020

  • Course Type

    Full Course

  • Recognition

    A Certificate of Confirmation is available when you complete the course requirements.

  • Course Requirements

    Complete all lessons
    Complete the feedback survey

Course curriculum

  1. 1
    • Course Overview

    • Sources, Resources, and Downloads

    • Meet the Educators

  2. 2
    • Chapter 2 Introduction

    • “Immoral people doing illegal things”: Working with people who use drugs in the context of criminalization

    • Harm Reduction History: Drug users doing it for themselves

    • Voices: Gregory Bell on Being the Glue

    • Nothing About Us Without Us: Pushback against exclusionary harm reduction

  3. 3
    • Chapter 3 Introduction

    • Voices: Stephanie M. on “Peer” Stigma Within the Industry

    • “Peer” Engagement

    • Pros and cons of calling people “peer”

    • Terminology

  4. 4
    • Chapter 4 Introduction

    • Key Resource: Harm Reduction at Work

    • Top reasons to involve People Who Use Drugs

    • Voices: Nat Kaminski on Being Valued for My Lived Experience

  5. 5
    • Chapter 5 Introduction: Principles Overview

    • Principle 2-3: Equity and Diversity

    • Principle 1: People Who Use Drugs are Experts

    • Principle 4-5: Transparency and Accountability

    • Principle 6-7: Shared Decision-Making Power and Increasing Capacity

    • Bonus: Open Communication

    • Voices: Mark Blackwood on Being Lifted By The Team

    • Voices: Glenn Peterson on Supporting the Journey

  6. 6
    • Chapter 6 Introduction

    • Key Resource: Good practice for employing people who use drugs

    • Key Resource: How to Involve People Who Use Drugs

    • Examples, ideas, and considerations

    • Pyramid of Involvement

    • Do’s and Don’ts

    • Voices: Natalia Durango on How Agencies Can Prevent Burnout

  7. 7
    • Summary

    • Feedback Survey - Engaging people who use drugs


  • Ashley Smoke

    Drug Culture Consultant, Ontario Harm Reduction Network

  • Peter Leslie

    Drug Culture Consultant, Ontario Harm Reduction Network

  • Nick Boyce

    Director, Ontario Harm Reduction Network