Harm Reduction Model and Movement

Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use…(A)lso a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs. Harmreduction.org

As Stacy Mosel points out in her Harm Reduction Guide (American Addiction Centers) that such programs “exist for several types of drugs, including opioids, alcohol, stimulants, Ecstasy, and marijuana. They range from needle exchange sites to managed alcohol programs to drug-testing kits at music festivals. Studies have found many of these methods to be effective. But critics see the programs as encouraging drug use and keeping people addicted to drugs.”

Go to the above link for specific tips and resources about this controversial method for addressing substance abuse and addiction.

Below are three books found by readers to be helpful: 1) a thorough guide for those concerned about their substance use, 2) a workbook for the same population, and 3) a history of harm reduction practices.

I. Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide to Controlling Your Drug and Alcohol Use, Second Edition by Patt Denning, Jeannie Little (2017)

Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RDN, author of Inside Rehab and Sober for Good“…[They] cover all the important bases with this updated edition. This book provides meaningful information and choices instead of one-size-fits-all advice.”

II.  Power Over Addiction: A Harm Reduction Workbook for Changing Your Relationship with Drugs by Jennifer Fernandez, PhD (2018) 

From the publisher: “uses evidence-based interventions from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness practices to help you understand the issues underlying addiction and stop problematic drug use.”

III. Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction by Maia Svalavitz (2021)  

Travis Lupick, Talking Drugs, quotes Svalavitz: “Harm reduction is the idea in drug policy that we should stop people from getting hurt, rather than stop them from getting high.”

Per the publisher: “In a spellbinding narrative rooted in an urgent call to action, Undoing Drugs tells the untold tale of a quirky political movement that has unexpectedly shaken the foundations of world drug policy. It illustrates how hard it can be to take on widely accepted conventional thinking—and what is necessary to overcome this resistance.”

Johann Hari, author of Chasing The Scream: “One of the most inspiring and remarkable stories you will ever read. Small groups of stigmatized people all over the world pioneered a totally new approach to drugs and addiction—and they saved millions of lives. Their incredible story has not been told—until now . If everyone in the US read this book, the drug war and so many drug myths would end tomorrow.”

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