Harm Reduction Paper

Topics: Harm reduction, Drug addiction, Heroin Pages: 9 (3516 words) Published: July 27, 2012
Harm Reduction paper

Randy Jones

Substance Abuse Counselling

January 18, 2012

This paper will discuss the principles and position of harm reduction. It will also examine the public perception of the user, which has created an ineffective philosophy. Most importantly, my paper seeks to recognize the harm of harm reduction. This discussion will highlight the lack of hope it creates in the user. Harm reduction needs to be addressed so that a long-term solution for the user can be implemented, not just a quick fix Band-Aid solution. If caregivers, counselors and the general public do not hold more of an abstinence position on recovery they will eventually do users a disservice. I will touch on needle exchange, safe injection sites, wet houses, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. The Position Of Harm Reduction

The International Harm Reduction Development program defines harm reduction as "a pragmatic and humanistic approach to diminishing the individual and social harms associated with drug use, especially the risk of Hiv infection (Farm, 2010, Para .1)." The people promoting harm reduction do not see a cure being realistic for all of society. Through this pragmatic approach, they believe that they are able to effectively broaden and bring flexibly to their interventions. The harm reductionist view is not to focus on how much a person uses per se. They want to reduce the harm that may be created by general health, financial and social context. Some of the harm reduction strategies include: needle & syringe exchange programs, public smoking restrictions, methadone maintenance programs, education & outreach programs, condom distribution programs, “safer“ grads and raves, designated driver programs, sex education for youth, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana and wet houses. Wet houses provide a free homeless shelter and alcohol under supervision. In this shelter, the user has the option of cutting down without the unrealistic view of instant sobriety. Along the same vein is the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. From the standpoint of harm reduction, getting rid of the prohibition on marijuana will decrease marijuana use. It is suggested that legalization would mean a lower price resulting in the decrease of crime. Insite safe injection first started when a nurse came to Dr. Peter, (who founded Dr. Peter Aids Fountain) to suggest the opening of a safe-injection site at the Dr. Peter center. Nurses were concerned about the fact that they were already sending people outside with needles to inject. Due to this exchange, the user risked overdosing and dying from what the nurses saw as preventable infections. This was because the users rushed their injections outside because they were too embarrassed to be seen. Many nurses felt that sending the users outside instead of providing a safe place to inject was unethical. All these harm reduction ideas share a common thread: if users are going to use anyways it is better they do it while being observed (Wong, 2008, p.2). From a harm reduction’s strength perspective, a client centered non-directive problem solving is implemented so the client is empowered to make his own choices instead of someone else imposing his value or motivation on the user. This approach helps focus the goals to be more attainable and realistic. This methodology asserts that if the users want to stay at the same level of their alcohol or drug use they are given the dignity to do so. Thus, the user’s autonomy is left intact. Aids action (2001) showed some of the positive results in a statistics finding that “Needle exchange programs prevent HIV infections among injecting drug users, their partner and families at a cost of approximately $9,400 per avoided HIV infection. Considering the lifetime cost of treating a person with HIV/AIDS is approximately $200,000, this represents a 95.3% savings per life (Aids Action Policy Facts, 2001).”

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