What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction, very simply, is a collection of solutions that reduce harm. It is often used in reference to tools that are helpful in reducing sickness and death due to opioid addiction. By helping opioid addicts to stay alive and healthy, we give them hope to recover.
Types of Harm Reduction.
First, there is Narcan. This drug reverses an opioid overdose. If a person stops breathing because they took too much heroin or fentanyl, narcan can save their life. In order to save as many lives as possible, we must have narcan available nearly everywhere. Ideally, it should be as common as fire extinguishers in buildings.
Safe Drug Using Areas
Some countries and some U.S. cities have these facilities. Unfortunately, many people are against this concept. In a safe using area, a drug user can get their drugs tested for safety. For example, if their heroin contains fentanyl, they will know that the risk of overdose is much higher. They can also get clean needles. If the drug user overdoses, an attendant can administer narcan. While it is understandable why cities are hesitant to allow these supervised injection sites, or “fix rooms”, it is definitely a good idea because eventually many drug users who attend will eventually get clean. This is a way to keep them alive and healthy in the meantime.
In addition to these harm reduction methods, family support will make a big difference. You may have heard of tough love. Tough love means that you don’t enable a drug addict to make life easy for them while they are using drugs. It could mean that you kick them out of the house and change the locks. Or, it might mean withholding money or even food or any other kind of assistance. Unfortunately, tough love does not work well when it comes to opioid addiction. The risk of overdose death is too high. The best solution is to keep your loved one close and do whatever it takes to keep them as safe as possible until they are ready to get help and get detox treatment.