Harm Reduction and Needle Syringe Program 

Harm Reduction refers to the interventions, including programs and policies, that aim to reduce the potentially adverse health, social and economic consequences of problematic substance use, and can include (but does not require) abstinence from substances. (Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy 2011). This strategy can be accessed at Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy website. The Strategy's vision is to make Waterloo Region safer and healthier.

Harm Reduction benefits people who use drugs, their families and the community. (International Harm Reduction Association, 2010). The Region of Waterloo Public Health is mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to provide harm reduction strategies/services.

These strategies/services are a necessary public health program that are in place to prevent the spread of blood-borne infections including HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B.

Injecting drugs, including steroids, is always risky. Sharing needles and other drug equipment puts you at risk of contracting blood-borne infections. Needle Syringe Services are provided at several locations in Waterloo Region on a confidential and non-judgmental basis.

NOTE: Check the Sanguen Mobile Van Outreach that brings necessary services to anyone who requires them. A Public Health Nurse is available on The Van on Thursday evenings to assist with health outreach including:

  • testing for STIs and pregnancy
  • birth control and emergency contraception
  • naloxone education
  • harm reduction supplies
  • referrals

Services offered at Region of Waterloo Public Health

Services offered at Region of Waterloo Public Health include the following:

Needle Syringe services which include provision of clean and sterile drug-using equipment including new needles, sterile water, alcohol swabs, cookers, filters, vitamin C and tourniquets. Also included are various sizes of sharps containers. Public Health will also take back used syringes and containers.

  • Naloxone Dispensing Program for individuals at risk for opioid overdose, or for family/friends that are concerned about someone at risk for overdose.
  • Client-centered counselling
  • Providing skill-building and education sessions
  • Referrals to treatment, health services and other social services
  • Immunization including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, pneumococcal and seasonal influenza
  • Education on assessing skin infections or abscesses
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing and HIV testing
  • Condom distribution

Naloxone Trainingnaloxone kit

Naloxone can be used in the event of an opiate overdose. Naloxone is available to individuals at risk for opioid overdose and to those close to them.

If you are at risk for overdose and would like to receive a Naloxone Kit, please call Region of Waterloo Public Health at 519-575-4400.

Naloxone can also be accessed at these locations.

Both Public Health locations (99 Regina Street South, Waterloo, and 150 Main Street, Cambridge) offer drop-in hours Fridays 1 - 3:30 pm.

Overdose prevention

Information on overdose prevention can be accessed at the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council website and at Preventing Overdose Waterloo Wellington

The Five Facts about Naloxone Video

Naloxone Administration Video

Naloxone Made Easy Video

Naloxone Signs and Symptoms Infographic

Overdose videos can be accessed on the Municipal Drug Strategy Network in Ontario website. - this website is a central resource for opioid overdose and naloxone information; there is also a locator tool that directs Ontarians to participating Ontario Naloxone Program sites, correctional facilities, and local pharmacies.

Overdose Monitoring, Alert and Response System (OMARS) - this website is for people to report overdoses and adverse reactions to drugs in Waterloo Region.

Infection prevention

Safer Injection Demo Video

Safer Crack-Smoking Demo Video

Information on HIV and Hepatitis C

Information on HIV and Hepatitis C can be accessed on the CATIE website.

How to pick up a needle

Treat all needles and drug equipment as contaminated.

  • Wear gloves (i.e. latex, rubber or leather gardening gloves). Gloves are meant to protect against fluid contamination, not punctures or cuts.
  • Use tongs, pliers or tweezers to pick up the needle. Be sure to clean and disinfect the pickup instrument afterwards.
  • Pick up the needle by the plastic end (syringe).
  • Point the needle tip away from your body. Be very careful not to poke yourself with the needle.
  • Put the sharps disposal container on a stable surface next to the needle. Do not hold the container in your hand while placing the needle inside.
  • Place the needle point down into the container. Do not force the needle into the container.
  • If you do not have a specialized sharps container, put the needle into a non-breakable, puncture-proof container with a lid. (i.e. thick plastic bottle or tin can)
  • Close the container securely.
  • Find the nearest needle disposal location. Do not flush needles down the toilet or put them in the garbage or recycling box.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removal of gloves.

If a needle injury occurs, seek immediate medical attention.

REMEMBER: Do not throw loose needles and other sharps into the trash. Place needles in tamper resistant sharps containers or a puncture proof container. More information can be found on the Waste Management website: Waste Wiz

Please bring your used sharps containers or puncture proof containers to any needle syringe program location for FREE disposal. Some select pharmacies will also take used sharps/needles for disposal. Here is a link for further information on pharmacies that will accept sharps. Remember, do not recap used needles!

Other locations where used needles can be dropped off are the Needle Syringes locations listed below.

Key Messages for Parents and Children Regarding Needles

If a Child Finds a Needle Poster 

I Found a Needle Poster

How to Dispose of Sharps?

For further information, please contact us at 519-575-4400.

Needle syringe locations

(click the address links to open a Google Map of the location)



ACCKWA at St. John's Soup Kitchen
2nd Floor, 97 Victoria Street North


Monday to Friday 10 am - 1 pm

The Bridges
26 Simcoe Street
(across from Shopper's Drug Mart)


Services offered daily

Bridges does not offer Safer Inhalation Kits

ACCKWA - Safepoint Needle Exchange Program

5-1770 King Street East

Monday 10 am - 1 pm

Tuesday/Wednesday 10 am - 6 pm

Thursday 10 am - 7 pm

Friday 9 am - 5 pm


ACCKWA Satellite Office
2nd Floor, 54 Ainslie Street South
(c/o Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank) 

519-622-6550 ext 117

Tuesday to Friday 
12:30 - 4:30 pm

Sanguen Community Health Van

Call or text The Van at 519-591-4826 to find out where we are - or to request a visit


Needle syringe locations at Public Health

(click the address links to open a Google Map of the location)



Region of Waterloo Public Health
2nd Floor, 99 Regina St. South


Region of Waterloo Public Health
1st Floor, 150 Main Street


Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
1 - 4 p.m. (Nurse available for testing and naloxone)

Monday to Friday 
8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Supplies only)

24-hour outdoor kiosk for disposal

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
1 - 4 p.m. (Nurse available for testing and naloxone)

Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Supplies only); Closed 12 - 1 p.m.

24-hour outdoor kiosk for disposal