Okay Folks, today ’s Blog Post is about Harm Reduction. That seems to be a hot topic these days. It has been around for many, many years actually. It is not something new. There is some talk that it was around before the 1980’s. There is literature that states that Harm Reduction was mostly identified in the 80’s though. I do not know for sure.
I just wanted to touch on this subject because for me, this has worked in my family and in my life over the years. This approach has given me some peace of mind too. I can pick and choose what parts of Harm Reduction that feel right to me are. Because, I have the power of choice. Even if sometimes I feel like I do not have a choice, I do, if I look hard enough when it comes to how I am going to deal with what is presented to me. By meeting myself where I am at and where my Loved One is at, I can make better decisions for myself. I lost site of this for a while when dealing with my Loved One’s substance use in the earlier days. I do not have to do every single thing relating to Harm Reduction that I do not feel comfortable with. It is not an all or nothing option. You know what’s good too? You can use Harm Reduction within a lot of different areas in life not just for addictive behaviors.
These are my thoughts and opinions only. Please keep an open mind if possible. My way is not the right way or the wrong way. Remember what works for me, might or might not for work for you. And what works for you, might or might not work for me. And maybe some of what you do works for me and guess what? That is okay! What a relief, honestly. This journey of addiction is not a one size for all for US or for our Loved Ones struggling with Addiction. I feel the more Tools we have, the more choices we have. We are not powerless. Please exercise your power of choice.
For me I went back and fourth with this. I had feelings that felt okay then not okay. Let me explain some. I felt sometimes while choosing Harm Reduction that I was wrong for doing that. I also felt confused about it because I felt like if I talked about the Addictions as calmly as possible then I was sending the wrong message to my Loved Ones. That it was okay to indulge in their Drug or Behavior of Choice. That was scary to me at the time. Then accepting what the situation was is wrong to do. That was not true, Accepting what the current situation is, can help you make choices. I felt frozen sometimes. Fearful of a mistake, could this be another one? I chose to explore this option that I had all ready had success with others in my life to my own Loved One and current situation. The things I was doing at that time were not working anymore. Life felt out of control and unmanageable all of the time, not anymore though. That did take some time, thank you to SMART Recovery Family and Friends Program and the wonderful facilitators, Alternat+ves Dave and Tina, the wonderful doctors at The Center for Motivation and Change to me Cassandra and my own hard work!
Remember when reading this article that I am writing as a parent, a family and friend to people who are around me that struggle with Substance Use Disorder. I have found that this approach works for me, for many, many years, way before hearing about Harm Reduction over the last several years. Here are some of my reasons as to why I feel Harm Reduction helped me in my life and now with my Loved Ones and possibly could help you. The Harm Reduction approach has helped me maintain some important relationships in my life over the years that I choose to be a part of. Especially with 2 people who were very close to me who have passed away. I would not trade that time with them for nothing. I love and miss them greatly.
Remember to take what you like and leave the rest…
Here are a few key points to consider when discussing or considering harm reduction:
- It is a Non-judgmental approach: Harm reduction is based on the principle of meeting individuals where they are without judgment. Emphasize the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment that respects people’s choices and autonomy.
- The Education and awareness: When highlighting the significance of providing accurate and evidence-based information in a kind way about the potential risks and harms associated with certain behaviors. This often then encourages open dialogue and education to empower individuals to make informed decisions.
- Having access to resources: By discussing the importance of ensuring access to harm reduction resources such as talking to your doctor or therapist about your addiction. Or even to learn some new information, for example the possible use of naloxone kits, which is sometimes called Narcan. Maybe we could learn how to use them and then have Narcan in the house. These resources can help prevent or reduce overdose deaths, and provide support for individuals struggling with substance use.
- Collaboration and partnerships: Emphasize the need for collaboration between various stakeholders such as family members and including healthcare professionals, community organizations, and policymakers. By working together, we can develop comprehensive harm reduction strategies that address the complex needs of individuals and our communities.
- Support and treatment options: Highlight the significance of offering a range of support and treatment options for individuals who are ready to make changes. This can include access to counseling, therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and support groups. And Emphasize the importance of “destigmatizing” the need for support or seeking out help.
- Evaluation and adaptation: Discuss the importance of regularly evaluating harm reduction programs and strategies could help families greatly. By providing data and feedback to each other we can make informed decisions and adapt our approaches to better meet the needs of our family and friends.
Remember, harm reduction is a compassionate and pragmatic approach that focuses on minimizing the negative consequences of certain behaviors. By promoting harm reduction principles, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for Our Loved Ones and ourselves that prioritizes the well-being of all individuals without making ourselves and Our Loved Ones feel like an outcast.
Taking a harm reduction approach from a parent’s perspective can be beneficial for building a stronger relationship with your Loved One.
Here are some points to consider:
- Open and non-judgmental communication: Create a safe space for open and honest communication with your Loved One. Encourage them to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgment from us. This will help foster trust and strengthen your relationship.
- Education and understanding: Take the time to educate yourself about the issues your child may be facing, such as substance use or risky behaviors. Understanding the underlying factors and potential risks involved will enable you to have more informed conversations and provide appropriate support. I highly suggest you go to some Recovery Meetings to hear things differently pertaining to our Loved Ones situations. Side note, this was a real eye opener for me.
- Empathy and compassion: Approach your Loved One’s challenges with empathy and compassion. Recognize that they may be going through difficult times and that their choices are not a reflection of their worth as individuals. Show them that you care and are there to support them unconditionally.
Okay, another side note, not every conversation has to be about the addiction. Make it a point not to allow the addiction to come up sometimes. Yes, I know that sounds crazy. That has helped me greatly though.
- Setting realistic expectations: It’s important to set realistic expectations for your child’s behavior and progress. Recognize that change takes time and that setbacks may occur along the way. Focus on progress rather than perfection and celebrate small victories. Expectations are a dream and relationship killer. Maybe let those go and see how your life improves.
- Providing resources and support: Offer your Child access to resources and support systems that can help them make healthier choices. This can include connecting them with counseling services, support groups, or other community organizations that specialize in harm reduction.
- Boundaries and safety: While taking a harm reduction approach, it’s crucial to establish clear boundaries and prioritize your child’s safety and your own. Communicate your concerns and expectations regarding their well-being, and work together to find strategies that promote safety while respecting their autonomy and yours.
Okay, remember, building a positive relationship with your Loved One is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and ongoing effort. And also the 4P’s Patience, Practice, Planning and Presence. You all ready know this is not an easy process. By maybe adopting some of a harm reduction approach, you can create an environment that fosters growth, trust, and open communication, ultimately strengthening your relationship with your Loved One. This way when and if they are ready they can come to you for help. I do want to say that sometimes no matter what we do, unfortunately our Loved One may never be ready. These ideas may help foster a relationship with your Loved One whether they are ready or not to choose to Recovery or cut down on there addictions whatever they maybe. I know there is some tough stuff being discussed here.
The Importance of Harm Reduction: Promoting Safety and Well-being
Understanding Harm Reduction Recap, my interpretation:
Harm reduction is an approach that aims to minimize the negative consequences associated with certain behaviors. Rather than focusing solely on abstinence or forbidding, harm reduction acknowledges that these behaviors may still occur and seeks to make less severe their potential harm.
The Principles of Harm Reduction (how I interpret them.)
- **Humanistic Approach**: Harm reduction recognizes the existing worth and dignity of every individual, regardless of their choices or circumstances. It promotes compassion, empathy, and non-judgmental attitudes towards those engaging in risky behaviors.
- **Practical and Realistic**: Harm reduction acknowledges that complete eradication of certain behaviors may not be feasible or realistic. Instead, it aims to reduce the negative consequences associated with these behaviors.
- **Focus on Safety**: The primary goal of harm reduction is to prioritize the safety and well-being of individuals. This includes providing access to resources, education, and support to minimize harm and promote healthier choices, even if they are still engaged in their Addictive Behaviors.
- **Collaborative Approach**: Harm reduction recognizes that individuals are experts in their own lives. It encourages collaboration between individuals, parents, partners, communities, extended family, and service providers to develop effective strategies. I know this is not easy for sure. I go back and forth with the statement “that our Loved One is an expert in their own life”, when I am seeing it differently then that.
I get asked about Harm Reduction a lot. Also asked what I think about it and how I use it in my own life. A huge question I am also asked is how much is too much “harm reduction” and to tell you the truth, it is up to you. Only you can really decide that. How can I help with this? Sometimes talking to a Coach is helpful about this. I am one of those Coaches. Please reach out to me at 516-984-3756 or use the button below.
Wishing you well always..
Peace, Love, & Tapping,