3. Harm Reduction
WHAT IS HARM REDUCTION?
Harm reduction is a term that many parents had never heard before parenting a young person with a substance use disorder, and if they had, it certainly wouldn’t apply to them.
Harm reduction really boils down to this:
The media mostly talks about harm reduction in the form of safe injection sites, also known as supervised consumption sites. These sites are saving lives, but from our experience, our young people are not using substances there. Instead, they are using with their friends or alone. Alone usually means in alleys, in parks, in bathrooms, or in their bedrooms. Harm reduction is the foundation of everything that we. It can be divided into two main categories:
- Harm reduction for yourself and the other people in your home (see Family Dynamics)
- Harm reduction for your young person who is using illicit substances
HARM REDUCTION TIPS
In this section, we’ve collected some harm reduction tips that we, as parents, have used with our young people who have substance use disorder.
Harm reduction for your young person who is using illicit substances:
The quicker that you give up the fight against your young person and focus on reducing their substance use, the quicker you can get on the same side and work towards their health. All these harm reduction ideas may be pushing you way out of your comfort zone. Some of them could look like falling into that parent shaming term of enabling. However, compromising with harm reduction is not giving up, it’s fighting to save your young person from addiction.
Harm reduction tips for parents / caregivers themselves may include:
- Staying current / up-to-date on the drug situation in Canada through ongoing learning.
- Tools to monitor / assess their own substance use, gambling:
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction: Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health provides people living in Canada with the information they need to make well-informed and responsible decisions about their alcohol consumption
Communication Guide for Youth Allies
Below is an excerpt from A Cannabis Communication Guide for Youth Allies* refer to the guide for more information.