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I think there is a huge misconception around the overall approach of the Harm Reduction model. Having worked in a needle exchange program in Portland, operated by the county health department and its partner at the time, the non-profit, Danzine, I would like people to understand that harm reduction is not about condoning behaviors. In fact, walking into an HR facility, it is quite apparent that every participant there (from the clients to the administrators) is operating from a very clear understanding that the behavior being addressed is potentially lethal at worst, and unhealthy, harmful, and a barrier to a more functional, healthy life at best. This is, in part, why the programs exist--to bring the users into contact with those who can help them to make healthier choices. The first choice might be to use a clean needle so that, as one commenter put it, the person might be alive another day to get clean. If you don't believe that, then you have to face the alternative which is to say that if you contract HIV, or have severe complications due to an abscess acquired from improper injection, or die that day due to an overdose, well, then that's what you get for being a drug addict. Harm reduction is simply stating you don't deserve to die for being a drug addict. Addicts should have the opportunity to get clean, and are more likely to do so by having access to experts who will help them in that struggle, instead of judging or condemning them. It is far more difficult to get clean when the majority of your interactions are with other users. Harm reduction and those who participate in it do not condone drug use; instead, they acknowledge the reality of the struggle users face.
posted 3 years, 3 months ago
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