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Topic 1 – Theory of Harm Reduction

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What is Harm Reduction?syringe-1574486_1280

Harm reduction refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable to, or do not want to stop.

The defining features are the focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself, and the focus on people who continue to use drugs.

These programs supplement other programs that aim to prevent or reduce problematic substance use.

It is important to include problematic substance users in the development and implementation of harm reduction programs as they are knowledgeable about their needs as well as the most negatively affected by problematic use.

The Harm Reduction approach proposes to meet people where they are at without insisting on change.

For further information, please follow this link to read the position statement on Harm Reduction by the International Harm Reduction Association:

Shame Kills! Changing the social narrative from shaming, moralizing, criminalizing and diseasing drug users to acceptance, compassion, curiosity and support is the most important, powerful, effective live-saving intervention we can promote. Shame increases self-hate, self-doubt, hopelessness, powerlessness, guilt, anxiety, feeling worse, despair, isolating, hiding, using more, increased risk for illness, overdose and death. We must change this narrative in ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, our healthcare providers and our leaders.

Andrew Tatarsky

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