Harm reduction is a public health approach that considers the complexities of addiction and its impact on individuals, families, and society at large. A basic tenet of harm reduction is that there has never been, nor ever will be, a drug-free society. The reality is that not everyone is willing or able to stop using. For individuals who refuse to stop using, harm reduction allows them to make choices that protect their health, as well as the health of others. This introductory course explores the harm reduction approach and basic principles, presents evidence as to its effectiveness, and outlines strategies for implementing this approach. Additionally, the changes to substance-related and addictive disorders in the DSM-5 are briefly outlined. The course incorporates online content, short web-based video clips, and case vignettes.
This course is designed for social workers and other behavioral health professionals who are interested in gaining basic knowledge of the harm reduction approach in treatment of persons with addictions. This course can be used toward the California mandated pre-license requirement for 15 hours of training in alcohol and chemical dependency.
After completing this course, readers will be able to do the following:
- Identify the major philosophies regarding drug abuse and the ways in which the current approaches may actually create obstacles to the goal of eliminating substance-related and addictive disorders.
- Identify a working definition of the harm reduction approach and its basic principles, as applied to addiction recovery.
- Identify psychotherapy approaches that utilize a harm reduction approach.
- Identify evidence-based strategies that utilize a harm reduction approach.
- Identify the key controversies related to the cause and treatment of addiction and, more specifically, the harm reduction approach.