What is Harm Reduction

What is Harm Reduction

This week someone asked me if I would kick them off the program if they continued to use drugs or did some cocaine. He was surprised when I told him that we do not practice that way. We follow the principles of harm reduction in our treatment program. What this means is that we accept the fact that, for better or worse, illicit and licit drug use is part of our world and we work to minimize its harmful effects. We don’t ignore or condemn our patients.

We strive to encompasses the following harm principles into our clinics:

• Establishes quality of individual and community life and well-being – not necessarily cessation of all drug use – as the criteria for successful interventions and policies.

• Calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm.

• Understands drug use as a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence, and acknowledges that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others.

• Affirms drugs users themselves as the primary agents of reducing the harms of their drug use, and seeks to empower users to share information and support each other in strategies which meet their actual conditions of use.

• Recognizes that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other social inequalities affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug-related harm.

• Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger associated with licit and illicit drug use.

Our goal is to help you achieve your goals. We do not impose our idea of success on to you. You tell us what you want to accomplish in our program and that is what we work towards.