Pubdate: Tue, 31 May 2005
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Hacker Press Ltd.
Author: Beth Wehrman
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Methadone)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Editor, The News:

Re: "Where's the safety in harm reduction?" (The News, May 26, Opinion).

As a nurse, harm reduction makes more sense than any other health-care 
approach I've experienced in 35 years. Although I learned by doing and was 
convinced in the process, there is a wealth of research-, science-, and 
practice-based evidence that harm reduction works.

I have also accepted the fact that substance use always has been, always 
will be, a factor in life.

Harm reduction requires new ways of thinking but, in reality, is practical, 
common sense in action. It's a public-health philosophy working to mitigate 
potential dangers that drugs and drug policies cause to individuals and to 

Harm reduction is a practical, common-sense strategy and, at its best, 
offers a comprehensive array of options. More simply, harm reduction is 
meeting people "where they're at" - physically, mentally, geographically, 
emotionally, spiritually - offering a variety of services.

It is actively engaging with individuals and helping them meet their needs 
(not the needs projected upon them). It is learning to measure success by a 
lessening of harm in a person's life; not necessarily abstinence. Because 
although treatment is an important part of the harm-reduction spectrum (and 
one that needs significantly more funding), it is just one part.

M. Heinrich's last question begs a direct answer: "Why is Vancouver in such 
a mess?"

Life is messy. But a realistic factual approach, maximizing individual 
dignity and strengthening self-efficacy, can only be a winner.

And, should relapse occur, the person who has been treated well will, when 
ready, come back.

A community that supports a person in "living another day" will be stronger 
for it.

Any positive change!

Elizabeth Wehrman

LeClaire, Iowa
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MAP posted-by: Beth