Harm Reduction Program

What does “Harm Reduction” mean?

Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences (i.e., negative health outcomes) associated with drug use.

What is the current philosophy of Harm Reduction?

Harm Reduction is a public health philosophy that seeks to empower individuals, remove barriers to accessing the support that they need, and supply pragmatic approaches to risk reduction in a non-judgmental/non-coercive way that is compassionate and accepting of any positive change. Harm Reduction supports a wide spectrum of strategies from doing the behavior more safely, to limiting certain behaviors, to abstinence.

What are the benefits of harm reduction related to substance use?

Harm reduction has many benefits for people who use substances, their families, and communities. Research shows harm reduction activities can:

  • Reduce the transmission of blood-borne pathogens and communicable diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis C
  • Reduce overdose deaths and other early deaths among people who use substances
  • Reduce injection substance use in public places, and reduce the number of used needles in public
  • Reduce the sharing of syringes and other substance-use equipment
  • Reduce crime and increase employment among people who use substances
  • Educate about safe substance use practices and reduce the frequency of use
  • Educate about safer sex and sexual health and increase condom use
  • Support clients by providing linkage to community resources
  • Increased success in recovery

For more information about Syringe Services Programs go to the CDC website: CDC Syringe Services Programs

Public health principles of Harm Reduction include:

  • Meeting the client where they are, using programs designed for the community being served.
  • Accepts that drug use is part of our world and chooses to work to minimize its harmful effects on the people using drugs, rather than ignore or condemn those individuals.
  • Understands that drug use and behavior change are complex and multifaceted.
  • They include a continuum of behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence.
  • Affirms that people who inject drugs are the primary agents responsible for reducing the harm from their drug use, and seeks to empower them to support each other and share information.
  • Recognizes that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other social inequities affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for dealing with drug-related harm.
  • Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real or tragic harm and dangers associated with licit and illicit drug use.

Starting January of 2022

Harm Reduction Services will be expanding locations in Columbia County


First Wednesday of the month - Vernonia

Second Wednesday of the month-Clatskanie

Third Wednesday of the month - Vernonia

Fourth Wednesday of the month - Rainier

Call for mobile services - Scappoose

Call for mobile services - St. Helens


12:00pm to 2:00pm

For exact locations and mobile services please call

Main Line: 503-438-2227 ext 4001

Click  here to see a list of other syringe exchanges in the region that are currently offering services. 

Services Provided:

  • Safe disposal of used syringes
  • Access to sterile syringes, new safer injection supplies, and new sharps containers
  • Overdose rescue kits including naloxone a drug used to reverse opioid overdose
  • Risk reduction counseling
  • Safer sex supplies
  • Wound and abscess care
  • Referrals to medical and mental health care, shelter services, and alcohol and drug treatment.

Need a ride?  visit NW CONNECT OR→

click on "schedule, routes, fares"

Harm reduction resources:

Local Resources:

Columbia Community Mental Health (CCMH) Drug and Alcohol Treatment

How can I dispose of Sharps safely?

Columbia County Sharps Container Exchange Program

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events

Public Health Quick Links
General Information
Phone Numbers
503-397-7247 24-hour Reporting 503-397-7247
Fax: 888-204-8568
Emergencies: Dial 911
230 Strand St.
Columbia County Courthouse Annex
St. Helens,

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. to 4:30


Columbia County Public Health is committed to improving the quality of life and protecting the health and well-being of all residents by addressing social, economic, and environmental conditions. Our goal is to ensure that all people in Columbia County have the opportunity for a healthy life.