Harm Reduction Model

The harm reduction model is grounded in the idea of pragmatism. Pragmatism focuses on usefulness, guidance, and the communication of knowledge. Individuals who adhere to this philosophy believe that knowledge arises from individuals with shared goals, rather than only from experts, and this knowledge should be made as accessible as possible to the public. The practice of harm reduction seeks to avoid additional harm or minimize existing harm to individuals engaged in harmful behaviors, such as substance abuse (Lushin, & Anastas, 2011). Thus, the goal is not necessarily abstinence from substance use, but rather to prevent any additional harm that could occur due to the use. For example, a harm reduction model might seek to teach intravenous drug users how to properly clean and sterilize needles as a means to prevent transmission of disease when sharing needles. The goal would be to prevent further harm in the form of disease, rather than try to directly treat the substance use. In fact, while abstinence is a worthy goal, proponents of harm reduction are concerned that this goal may not be pragmatic and may actually scare people away who could be helped (Lushin, & Anastas, 2011).

*My thoughts are that: Harm reduction appears to be a valid model, but perhaps not the only model that should be used. Harm reduction could be used in conjunction with efforts to eliminate substance misuse, as ignoring the latter would be unethical and harmful to the population. However, there is value in harm reduction. I support efforts such as teaching IV drug users to clean needles or making condoms available to drug users as a means to prevent disease transmission. However, I would not support providing a safe place with clean needles and sterile equipment for drug users to go to get high. I believe that this crosses the line of simply reducing harm to supporting the use of illicit drugs. The harm reduction model has a place in society and can be beneficial, but the strategies used within this model should be ethical and avoid promoting drug use.

What are your thoughts?

1). Would you state the goal harm reduction is to become a functional substance use?

The issue in itself is controversial. Substances are used recreationally and as coping mechanisms, and are abused because of this. Therefore allowing use in moderation may increase that risk.

2). I understand there is a therapeutic that relationship that occurs in order for harm reduction practices to be used and effective, but don't you think this is still hindering the substance use, along with risking the trust built in the relationship?

Even people clean with 20 plus years off their substance cannot go back to socially using or in moderation due to the risk of addiction and misuse.

3). Do you think this would be the case also when practicing harm reduction techniques?

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