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Harm Reduction Principles in Practice Part 1 of 3 What does H.R. actually mean? We will look at H.R. philosophy + how to incorporate it into informal and.

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Presentation on theme: "Harm Reduction Principles in Practice Part 1 of 3 What does H.R. actually mean? We will look at H.R. philosophy + how to incorporate it into informal and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Harm Reduction Principles in Practice Part 1 of 3 What does H.R. actually mean? We will look at H.R. philosophy + how to incorporate it into informal and ongoing VAW support services

2 Why is it important to support women who use drugs/alcohol in VAW shelters? Identifying dynamics of deserving and undeserving What is it like supporting women who are using? Impact of denying services to women who use drugs

3 Challenges 12 step disease model poses for many trauma survivors Requires buy-in that she is powerless Abstinence is understood as only viable goal Few women only groups Expertise situated outside of the woman seeking change Model is prescriptive and generic Tone of support is directive Created from perspective of white, male, hetereosexual Higher Power and God often used interchangably Meetings involve prayer Support falls away if she uses

4 What is Harm Reduction? Framework for working with people who use drugs Strives to reduce consequences of risky behaviour Includes strategies, philosophies, and social change agendas

5 Harm Reduction is predicated on the following Basic Tenets:

6 Recognizes the intrinsic value and dignity of human beings Framework does not divide women into binaries

7 Seeks to maximize social & health assistance, disease prevention & education, while minimizing repressive & punitive measures HR does not approach drug use as a criminal or medical issue Discussing and problem solving risk factors

8 Harm Reduction … Recognizes the right for comprehensive, non- judgmental medical and social service and the fulfillment of basic needs of all individuals and communities, including users, their loved ones, and the communities affected by drug use

9 HR support needs to be integrated throughout all support services HR has a ripple effect within communities

10 Does not judge licit and illicit drugs and drug use as good or bad, rather it looks at people’s relationship to drugs, emphasizing the reduction of drug related harm and the encouragement of safer drug use HR does not take a moral stance How does she feel about her use? Focus on safety and reducing dependence on abusive (ex)partner.

11 Recognizes the competency of a user to make choices and change her life, including her drug use HR framework understands that a woman’s process must be respected, that she is in the best position to decide what will/will not work for her Goals and support plans co-created and defined by her

12 Demands that the individuals and communities affected by drug use be involved in co-creation of strategies for harm reduction interventions and programs How can VAW shelters incorporate HR? Situate drug users at the forefront of change movements

13 Expects accessible, flexible, non- judgmental drug treatment There are currently many barriers women face when they want to/need to access residential treatment and day programs

14 Supports accessible distribution of sterile drug use and safer sex equipment Exchange model vs. distribution model Benefits of current distribution model

15 Other common barriers in VAW shelters for survivors who use drugs and/or alcohol No drug use policies Moral or values based policies vs. behaviour based policies Assumptions about a woman’s readiness to live free of violence Strict curfews

16 Barriers, continued… Accessing safer use supplies Sharps containers Fear of promoting drug use Methadone Being “productive” during the day

17 More HR strategies On site HR supports Auricular Acupuncture Support if women become incarcerated Position on sex work Willingness to advocate

18 Thank you Questions? Bo Yih and Mella contact:


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