Welcome to the WECOSS Newsroom

Informed guide for reporting on substance use, in ways that promote understanding and respect.[1]

The media is often a key source of information for the public and language used to talk about substance use shapes how the public views substance use disorders. Using stigmatizing language can add to negative stereotypes about the types of people affected by substance use and can decrease public support for prevention and treatment programs.


The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy (WECOSS) supports the development and implementation of comprehensive solutions and community-level initiatives to reduce the harms associated with substance use and enhance the quality and range of services and supports for substance use issues in the region.

In December of 2016, the Windsor-Essex Community Opioid Strategy Leadership Committee (WECOS-LC) formed, bringing together leadership from key organizations across many sectors to address rising rates of opioid use in Windsor and Essex County. An environmental scan of existing community resources and best practices from other regions at the provincial, national, and international levels were used to develop a set of strategies, which were further refined through a community consultation process.

The WECOSS utilizes a four-pillar approach to address the harms of substance use at the community level: Prevention and Education, Harm Reduction, Treatment and Recovery, and Enforcement and Justice. Pillar-based working groups support implementation of activities outlined in the Action Plan. Working groups consist of community partners that are committed to a common purpose and set of activities. Each of the working groups also includes people with lived experience (PWLE) using substances, to provide their voice and input into programs and services that are developed in the region.

  • Prevention and Education: Interventions that seek to prevent or delay substance use and prevent problematic substance use. These interventions may focus on reducing the factors that increase the risk of developing substance use issues and may aim to increase protective factors, including promoting healthy families and education and awareness initiatives that enhance the knowledge and skills of the community related to substance use.
  • Harm Reduction: Interventions that seek to reduce the health, social and economic harms associated with substance use. These interventions respect the rights of those who use substances, and may increase awareness regarding lower risk use. Such approaches aim to reduce the spread of communicable diseases, prevent overdose harms and deaths, increase contact with healthcare providers, and reduce consumption of illicit substances in unsafe settings.
  • Treatment and Recovery: Interventions that seek to improve the physical and emotional well-being of people who use substances or have used substances. These interventions include a continuum of services and interventions, such as counselling, residential programs, and community-based withdrawal programs.
  • Enforcement and Justice: Interventions that seek to strengthen community safety by responding to crime and disorder in the community related to substance use. Given that police interact frequently with people who use drugs, these interventions aim to increase coordination between law enforcement and health services.

[1] Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2016). Opioids and addiction: A primer for journalists. Retrieved from