“Harm reduction is a practical and transformative approach that incorporates community-driven public health strategies — including prevention, risk reduction, and health promotion — to empower people who use drugs (and their families) with the choice to live healthy, self-directed, and purpose-filled lives,” as defined from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Substance use and mental health diagnoses are intrinsically connected. Often substance use starts because of a traumatic event such as a workplace injury where opioids have been prescribed, grief from a recent death or anniversary, or repeated complex trauma from generations of partner or family violence; these all being examples of individuals we have worked with at Partner for Mental Health.
At Partner for Mental Health, we strive to meet people where they are in their recovery to create person-centered and SMART goals. SMART meaning:
Applying the harm reduction principles can sometimes mean an individual isn’t ready to stop using them immediately. They may be looking for safe use spaces, doctors who are harm reduction informed and can prescribe appropriately, sterile medical supplies and wound care, Narcan distribution and administration training, or even using SMART goals to work out a plan for reducing substance use and work towards treating addictive behaviors.
Harm reduction principles can also apply to other mental health diagnoses. For example, intrusive thoughts can be incredibly difficult to the point they get in the way of daily activities like basic hygiene or remembering to make an important phone call. If a person isn’t ready to seek professional services, reaching out to a trusted friend and telling them about the thoughts can often make them easier to recognize and tolerate as a first step to reducing the harm the thoughts cause. Or pausing to breathe and connect to the present moment by recalling the time and date, stating it out loud, or mindfully writing it on paper can quiet the intrusive thoughts and remind ourselves we are not our thoughts. To learn more about our services, helpful community resources, and upcoming events, check out our social media on the buttons below!