Harm Reduction

includes but is not limited to naloxone access, medication assisted treatment, syringe exchange/access programs, safe injection facilities, heroin-assisted treatment, reducing stigma and ending the harmful affects of the war on drugs.

At its heart, the harm reduction movement is a close knit family of dreamers, radicals, and outsiders, tempering anger with hope, fighting stigma and marginalization with love.
                                              – Daniel Raymond, Policy Director Harm Reduction Coalition

Isn’t medication assisted treatment just substituting one drug for another?

No, it is the treatment. According to data, MAT offers a 50-70 percent success rate.  We must get past the mindset that one is not in recovery if they are using a drug.  Most people use drugs for other medical conditions and we would never question them. Medication greatly increases the chance of success and reduces the risk of death.

 

Doesn’t syringe exchange or syringe access programs encourage drug use?

 No, in fact, the research shows not only do they prevent the spread of infectious disease; they create an opportunity to offer needed medical and treatment services which ultimately does save lives.

 

Don’t safe injection facilities enable people to use drugs and lead to an increase in criminal activity in the surrounding area?

 No, hundreds of evidence-based, peer-reviewed studies have proven that supervised injection facilities eliminate overdose deaths, does not encourage 

What is Heroin Assisted Treatment?

 “Under HAT, pharmacological heroin is administered under strict controls in a clinical setting to those who have failed in other treatments like methadone. Every published evaluation of HAT has shown extremely positive outcomes: major reductions in illicit drug use, crime, disease and overdose; and improvements in health, wellbeing, social reintegration and treatment retention. More than a half dozen countries in Europe and Canada have implemented heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) programs.” Drug Policy Alliance

Is stigma really a factor in obtaining effective treatment? 

Yes, and as long as drug users are criminalized, we will have stigma and as long as we have stigma, we will have drug related deaths.

“In this world, those who use drugs suffer from the hate and stigma of others. It is not justified. Addiction is not about choice. Addiction is not about willpower. It is a physical, medical, disorder. My son, as are others, was ill. But instead of the help he needed he received ineffective treatment. Again and again, because of that stigma, because of the ignorance that underlies that stigma, he was denied the treatment that may have saved his life.” Denise Cullen, E.D. of Broken No More and GRASP.

One of the simplest and cost effective ways to change stigma is through our choice of words.  No longer should junkie, addict, clean, dirty continue to be used.

Research shows the use of language affects the treatment one is given by medical personal. It is also sited, as one of the biggest reasons people do not seek treatment. Everyone has a preconceived notion of what an “addict” is and it is not a pretty picture. These words only elicit a negative image.

One of the simplest and cost effective ways to change stigma is through our choice of words.  No longer should junkie, addict, clean, dirty continue to be used. 

Research shows the use of language affects the treatment one is given by medical personal. It is also sited, as one of the biggest reasons people do not seek treatment. Everyone has a preconceived notion of what an “addict” is and it is not a pretty picture. These words only elicit a negative image.

Won’t arresting people who use drugs and/or sell drugs help to eliminate drugs, thus lowering the number of drug related deaths in our society?

No, our country has fought the war on drugs for over 50 years and all it has accomplished is creating a country that has more drugs which are easier to access and more deadly, a continual rise in drug related deaths and more non violent people incarcerated.  Facts prove that this war won’t stop drug deaths but causes more harm to our society than any drug ever has. In reality, the war on drugs has truly been a war on people.

Harm Reduction—What is it? 

 

“Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.”     

Harm Reduction Coalition 

Harm Reduction values life, choice, respect and compassion over judgment, stigma, discrimination and punishment. 

Harm reduction believes everyone deserves to be safe no matter what choice they make. It is a realistic approach believing not every one is ready for complete abstinence, but everyone deserves drug use safety. 

 Harm reduction meets the individual where he is and                   allows him to be an active participant in deciding                                  his course of treatment,  if any. 

Harm reduction principals and policies prevent the spread of disease, prolong and/or save lives. 

Misconceptions and Harm Reduction

 

Doesn’t naloxone encourage drug use?

No, research has shown that naloxone does not encourage drug use. Reversing an opioid overdose using naloxone gives someone a second, third, fourth chance at life and a chance to get into treatment if one so chooses.  

Can naloxone be abused or be harmful?

No, naloxone has no potential for abuse. Its sole purpose it to reverse an opioid overdose and if administered by mistake, there are no harmful affects.