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What is Harm Reduction?

Harm reduction refers to a set of programs, policies, and practices aimed at minimizing the amount of harm that befalls drug users. With the ever-growing opioid epidemic, programs like clean needle exchanges and safe injection sites are designed to protect drug users from problems such as overdose and the transmission of disease. While sobriety certainly should be the goal for every suffering from addiction, there are those who are unwilling or unable to receive effective treatment. Harm reduction strategies can effectively save the lives of these individuals until they are able to enter into abstinence-based recovery.

Harm Reduction International explains, “It is based on the recognition that many people throughout the world continue to use psychoactive drugs despite even the strongest efforts to prevent the initiation or continued use of drugs. Harm reduction accepts that many people who use drugs are unable or unwilling to stop using drugs at any given time. Access to good treatment is important for people with drug problems, but many people with drug problems are unable or unwilling to get treatment.” Researchers have found that harm reductions programs and practices are not only good for drug users but are also helpful in reducing other negative social elements, such as crime and disease transmission, that surround the addiction problem.

Harm reduction programs focus on compassion rather than punishment. Harm Reduction International explains, “People who use drugs are always somebody’s son or daughter, sister or brother or father or mother. This compassion extends to the families of people with drug problems and their communities. Harm reduction practitioners oppose the deliberate stigmatization of people who use drugs. Describing people using language such as ‘drug abusers’, ‘a scourge’, ‘bingers’, ‘junkies’, ‘misusers’, or a ‘social evil’ perpetuates stereotypes, marginalizes and creates barriers to helping people who use drugs.” Punishments often lead to further exacerbation of one’s addiction and self-identification as an “addict,” making it less likely for them to reach out for help.

While harm reduction strategies are not focused on getting a person off of drugs, they do open the door for one to receive treatment. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “These strategies also need to include information on health and social services available in your area. Education for drug users may include one-on-one sessions or group sessions that occur in clinical settings or other settings (institutions, prison, on the street, etc.).” Offering harm reduction strategies can effectively keep a person from facing the dangerous consequences of addiction, but also offer the opportunity for one to seek help for their addiction.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists, holistic experts, and spiritual guides to help clients develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431