Harm reduction through a social justice lens (2022)

Table of Contents
International Journal of Drug Policy Abstract Section snippets Health equity and inequity Concepts of justice Conclusion References (68) Child Abuse and Neglect Child Abuse and Neglect Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment International Journal of Drug Policy International Journal of Drug Policy Journal of Adolescent Health At risk in America: The health and health care needs of vulnerable populations in the United States Evaluating the health care system: Effectiveness, efficiency and equity Mortality among homeless shelter residents in New York City American Journal of Public Health Principles of biomedical ethics Broadening the bioethics agenda Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal Meeting the health care needs of female crack users: A Canadian example Women and Health Individual good and common good: A communitarian approach to bioethics Perspectives in Biology and Medicine Harm reduction: Concepts and practice Risk of death among homeless women: A cohort study and review of the literature Canadian Medical Association Journal “Eyes wide shut”: Narratives of women living with hepatitis C in Australia Women and Health Closing the health inequalities gap: An international perspective Just health care Equity and population health Hastings Center Report Barriers and bridges to care: Voices of homeless female adolescent youth in Seattle, Washington, USA Journal of Advanced Nursing Ethical dimensions of health equity Conceptualizing vulnerable population's health-related research Nursing Research What street people reported about service access and drug treatment Journal of Health and Social Policy Ethical challenges and responses in harm reduction research: Promoting applied communitarian ethics Drug and Alcohol Review Access to women's health care: A qualitative study of barriers perceived by homeless women Women and Health Competing priorities as a barrier to medical care among homeless adults in Los Angeles American Journal of Public Health Marginalization revisited: Critical, postmodern, and liberation perspectives Advances in Nursing Science Marginalization: A guiding concept for valuing diversity in nursing knowledge development Advances in Nursing Science The inverse care law Lancet Homeless women's access to health services: A study of social networks and managed care in the U.S. Women and Health Harm reduction theories and strategies for control of human immunodeficiency virus: A review of the literature Journal of Advanced Nursing Cited by (75) Advancing behavioral interventions for African American/Black and Latino persons living with HIV using a new conceptual model that integrates critical race theory, harm reduction, and self-determination theory: a qualitative exploratory study An evaluation of the Compassion, Inclusion, and Engagement initiative: learning from PWLE and communities across British Columbia Advancing behavioral interventions for African American/Black and Latino persons living with HIV by integrating critical race theory, harm reduction, and self-determination theory: A qualitative exploratory study Recommended articles (6) FAQs Videos
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International Journal of Drug Policy

Volume 19, Issue 1,

February 2008

, Pages 4-10

Abstract

Background: People who are street involved such as those experiencing homelessness and drug use face multiple inequities in health and access to health care. Morbidity and mortality are significantly increased among those who are street involved. Incorporation of a harm reduction philosophy in health care has the potential to shift the moral context of health care delivery and enhance access to health care services. However, harm reduction with a primary focus on reducing the harms of drug use fails focus on the harms associated with the context of drug use such as homelessness, violence and poverty. Methods: Ethical analysis of the underlying values of harm reduction and examination of different conceptions of justice are discussed as a basis for action that addresses a broad range of harms associated with drug use. Results: Theories of distributive justice that focus primarily on the distribution of material goods are limited as theoretical frameworks for addressing the root causes of harm associated with drug use. Social justice, reconceptualised and interpreted through a critical lens as described by Iris Marion Young, is presented as a promising alternative ethical framework. Conclusions: A critical reinterpretation of social justice leads to insights that can illuminate structural inequities that contribute to the harms associated with the context of drug use. Such an approach provides promise as means of informing policy that aims to reduce a broad range of harms associated with drug use such as homelessness and poverty.

Section snippets

Health equity and inequity

Equity in health has been defined as “the absence of systematic and potentially remediable differences in one or more aspects of health across populations or population subgroups defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically” (International Society for Equity in Health, 2005, p. 1). Inequities in health have been identified as a major concern in health care systems of developed countries worldwide (Crombie, Irvine, Elliott, & Wallace, 2005). Internationally, the terms

Concepts of justice

Defining inequities as unfair and in just highlights the need for a theoretical understanding of justice that contributes to the amelioration of inequities in health (Evans & Peters, 2001; Starfield, 2006, Whitehead, 2007). Different notions of justice can be understood as a lens through which to view concerns about inequities and enhance understanding of potential theoretical approaches to underpin action for addressing inequities such as those associated with drug use (Sherwin, 1999).

Conclusion

The intersection of homelessness and drug use contribute to multiple inequities in health and access to health care. Inequities in health and lack of access to health care are a consequence of multiple structural injustices that disproportionately affect those who are street involved. Inequities are exacerbated by lack of quality housing, poverty, unemployment, lack of social support and education. Harm reduction driven solely by reducing the harm of drug use is not sufficient to address

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    Cited by (75)

    • Policy actor views on structural vulnerability in harm reduction and policymaking for illegal drugs: A qualitative study

      2022, International Journal of Drug Policy

      Health risks associated with drug use are concentrated amongst structurally vulnerable people who use illegal drugs (PWUD). We described how Canadian policy actors view structural vulnerability in relation to harm reduction and policymaking for illegal drugs, and what solutions they suggest to reduce structural vulnerability for PWUD.

      The Canadian Harm Reduction Policy Project is a mixed-method, multiple case study. The qualitative component included 73 semi-structured interviews conducted with harm reduction policy actors across Canada's 13 provinces and territories between November 2016 and December 2017. Interviews explored perspectives on harm reduction and illegal drug policies and the conditions that facilitate or constrain policy change. Our sub-analysis utilized a two-step inductive analytic process. First, we identified transcript segments that discussed structural vulnerability or analogous terms. Second, we conducted latent content analysis on the identified excerpts to generate main findings.

      The central role of structural vulnerability (including poverty, unstable/lack of housing, racialization) in driving harm for PWUD was acknowledged by participants in all provinces and territories. Criminalization, in particular, was seen as a major contributor to structural vulnerability by justifying formal and informal sanctions against drug use and, by extension, PWUD. Many participants expressed that their personal understanding of harm reduction included addressing the structural conditions facing PWUD, yet identified that formal government harm reduction policies focused solely on drug use rather than structural factors. Participants identified several potential policy solutions to intervene on structural vulnerability including decriminalization, safer supply, and enacting policies encompassing all health and social sectors.

      Structural vulnerability is salient within Canadian policy actors’ discourses; however, formal government policies are seen as falling short of addressing the structural conditions of PWUD. Decriminalization and safer supply have the potential to mitigate immediate structural vulnerability of PWUD while policies evolve to advance social, economic, and cultural equity.

    • Social support networks of users of crack cocaine and the role of a Brazilian health program for people living on the street: A qualitative study

      2021, Archives of Psychiatric Nursing

      This cross-sectional qualitative study analyzed characteristics of social support for users of crack cocaine and the role of “Consultório na Rua” (CR), or “Office in the Street,” a Brazilian program for people living on the street. Data were collected using 1) ethnographic field observations during the delivery of services from this program, 2) in-depth interviews with 17 users of crack cocaine, and 3) a focus group with professionals from CR. To analyze data, we used content analysis and analytical categories based on Social Network Analysis (SNA) theoretical statements. Results showed that family, peers, community members, and professionals from CR were the main social support providers. Participants mentioned receiving material, informational, and emotional support from CR members. It was observed that CR had a welcoming and inclusive approach, but CR team members identified challenges related to stigma directed toward people who use substances and live on the street. CR assumed a central role in the health and social assistance of users of crack cocaine living on the street, providing an important link to healthcare and social services. However, initiatives related to motivation to receive mental health services, treatment, or social reintegration were not observed in conjunction with this program.

    • On the outside looking in: Finding a place for managed alcohol programs in the harm reduction movement

      2019, International Journal of Drug Policy

      (Video) Harm Reduction as Justice: Policy, Courage, and Survival

      Alcohol policy in North America is dominated by moderation and abstinence-based modalities that focus on controlling population-level alcohol consumption and modifying individual consumption patterns to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harms. However, conventional alcohol policies and interventions do not adequately address harms associated with high-risk drinking among individuals experiencing severe alcohol use disorder (AUD) and structural vulnerability such as poverty and homelessness. In this commentary we address this gap in alcohol harm reduction, and highlight the lack of, and distinct need for, alcohol-specific harm reduction for people experiencing structural vulnerability and severe AUD. These individuals, doubly impacted by structural oppression and severe AUD, engage in various high-risk drinking practices that contribute to a unique set of harms that conventional abstinence-based treatments and interventions fail to adequately attend to. Managed alcohol programs (MAPs) have been established to address these multiple intersecting harms, and though gaining momentum across Canada, have had a hard time finding their place within the harm reduction movement. We illustrate how MAPs play a crucial role in the harm reduction movement in their ability to not only address high-risk drinking practices among structurally marginalized individuals, but to respond to harms associated with broader structural inequities such as poverty and homelessness.

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    FAQs

    Which of the following is an example of a harm reduction strategy? ›

    What are some examples of harm reduction? Some practices that take a harm reduction approach include: using a nicotine patch instead of smoking, consuming water while drinking alcohol, using substances in a safe environment with someone they trust, and needle exchange programs for people who inject drugs.

    Is harm reduction moral? ›

    Harm reduction has been advocated to address a diverse range of public health concerns. The moral justification of harm reduction is usually presumed to be consequentialist because the goal of harm reduction is to reduce the harmful health consequences of risky behaviors, such as substance use.

    What is the primary goal of harm reduction? ›

    The primary goal of harm reduction is to save lives and protect the health of both people who use drugs and their communities.

    What is the hallmark of the harm reduction model? ›

    Harm reduction does not demand more than an individual can realistically do at any given time. Realistic, incremental change, rather than radical immediate change, is the hallmark of harm reduction.

    What are benefits of harm reduction? ›

    Harm reduction has many benefits for people who use substances.
    ...
    Research shows harm reduction activities can:
    • Increase referrals to support programs and health and social services.
    • Reduce stigma and increase access to health services.
    • Reduce sharing of substance use equipment.
    • Reduce hepatitis and HIV.
    1 Feb 2020

    What should be in a harm reduction kit? ›

    The harm reduction program provides sterile, single-use injection and inhalation supplies and safe disposal of used drug equipment:
    1. Clean syringes.
    2. Alcohol swabs.
    3. Sterile water.
    4. Tourniquets.
    5. Spoons and filters.
    6. Safer inhalation kits.
    7. Sharps containers.
    8. Referrals to community resources.

    What is ethical harm reduction? ›

    Ethical principles in harm reduction

    Being pragmatic means taking steps to reduce harm when a person continues to use substances. It is recognition that substance use will occur regardless of healthcare provider's wishes.

    Is harm reduction utilitarian? ›

    Harm reduction programs are not utilitarian, they are rarely implemented in a spirit of utilitarianism, they should not be promoted or defended as such, and the extension of 'harm reduction' into new arenas under the banner of utilitarianism is misguided.

    What is harm reduction nursing? ›

    A harm reduction approach aligns with a nurse's responsibility to use critical inquiry and evidence-informed knowledge to protect and promote an individual's right to autonomy, respect, privacy, and dignity.

    What type of prevention is harm reduction? ›

    Harm reduction is a developmentally congruent approach to the primary and secondary prevention of risky behaviour in the adolescent population.

    Which option will provide the best outcome when saying no to harmful substances? ›

    Which option will provide the best outcome when saying no to harmful substances? Leave the location.

    What does harm minimisation mean? ›

    The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) defines harm minimisation as the policies, programmes and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable or unwilling to stop.

    What are the three elements of a substance abuse program? ›

    Here are the three main elements of the substance abuse program.
    • Assessment.
    • Therapeutic drug treatment.
    • Experiential therapeutic programs.
    • About Magnolia Ranch Recovery Addiction Treatment Center.
    27 Jul 2022

    What is the most widely used assessment tool for addiction? ›

    One of the best tools for assessing any type of psychological disorder, including addiction is the DSM-5. There are five tools that the American Psychological Association uses along with the DSM-5 before making decisions about treatment.

    What is the second step of the brief intervention? ›

    2. Review Possible Impacts of Substance Abuse. Find out what the client knows about alcohol or drug risks and possible impacts.

    When did harm reduction start in Canada? ›

    Brief history of harm reduction in Canada. During the late 1980s, Canada, alongside Australia and a number of Western European countries, became an early pioneer of contemporary harm reduction approaches in response to rising rates of HIV infection among people who inject drugs [1].

    What is harm Minimisation in drug education? ›

    A harm minimisation approach aims to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drugs by minimising or limiting the harms and hazards of drug use for both the community and the individual without necessarily eliminating use.

    How can we reduce the effect of alcohol? ›

    Tips for minimising alcohol harm

    Drink water or other non-alcohol beverages between alcoholic drinks. Avoid drinking in rounds with friends, as you may end up drinking more than planned. Order smaller serves of beer, cider and spirits, rather than pints or double serves.

    Can I get Narcan for my first aid kit? ›

    Did you know that in most states, naloxone (also known as Narcan) is available without a prescription? That means anyone can purchase naloxone, including employers who may want to include it in their jobsite first-aid kits.

    Which factors may increase the likelihood of a person using drugs? ›

    Risk factors
    • Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves genetic predisposition. ...
    • Mental health disorder. ...
    • Peer pressure. ...
    • Lack of family involvement. ...
    • Early use. ...
    • Taking a highly addictive drug.

    Which is a barrier to leading a substance free lifestyle? ›

    A stumbling block to living a drug-free existence is Fear of Judgement. Explanation: A great majority of people who require substance abuse therapy do not seek it out.

    What does utilitarianism say about drugs? ›

    Utilitarianism, a philosophy that examines the consequences of actions and deems moral the choices that maximize happiness and utility, is relatively tolerant of recreational drug use, so long as the drug in question is not addictive or damaging in the long term.

    What is harm reduction CAMH? ›

    A harm reduction approach involves working with the person using substances so that they use more safely, without expecting them to stop using. This approach recognizes that some people may not want, or be ready or able to stop completely.

    What is concurrent disease? ›

    We use the term concurrent disorder when a person suffers from an addiction and a mental health problem at the same time. For example, people with a concurrent disorder might have schizophrenia and an opioid addiction, or post-traumatic stress disorder and an alcohol addiction.

    What is in a Narcan? ›

    Narcan contains the active drug naloxone. It belongs to a class of drugs called opioid antagonists. These drugs work by blocking the effects of opioids in your body. This action reverses the life threatening effects that happen when someone overdoses on opioids.

    What are the three pillars of harm reduction? ›

    This approach reduces the harms of use through coordinated, multi-agency responses that address the three pillars of harm minimisation. These pillars are demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction.

    What are some strategies that can prevent harm from the intake of drugs? ›

    Prevention and harm reduction
    • informing people about the effects and the harms associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.
    • changing laws and regulations that govern sales of alcohol and tobacco.
    • providing positive role modelling of alcohol and other drug use.
    • helping people to reduce stress in their lives.
    24 Nov 2021

    What is drug related harm? ›

    There is no generally accepted definition of drug-related harm reduction; however, it is known to cover a set of activities that are intended to minimize the negative physical and social impact, including the transmission of HIV, incurred by the behaviours related to drug use. Importance of Harm Reduction.

    What is the most effective intervention for substance abuse? ›

    CBT is often rated as the most effective approach to treatment with a drug and alcohol population.

    What makes a treatment effective? ›

    3. Effective Treatment Attends to Multiple Needs of the Individual, not just his or her drug use: To be effective, treatment must address the individual's drug use and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.

    How long does it take a person to overcome their addiction? ›

    Most addicted individuals need at least three months in treatment to get sober and initiate a plan for continued recovery. Research shows that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment. Lengthier treatment programs can seem intimidating at first, but they may end up bringing you the best results.

    What is harm reduction in criminology? ›

    A harm reduction approach aims to reduce the negative consequences of using psychoactive substances, without necessarily reducing substance use itself. Through policies, programs, and practices, a harm. reduction approach: Accepts that abstinence may not be a realistic or desirable. goal for a person.

    What is supply reduction strategy? ›

    Supply reduction strategies are directed toward enforcing the prohibition of illegal drugs and regulating and enforcing access to legal drugs and substances, particularly those that are of a high probability for abuse, including pharmaceuticals and other precursors and essential chemicals.

    How do you say no to drugs? ›

    In a firm voice, tell the person you don't want to drink or use drugs. Say something like: - "No, I'm sorry, but I don't use...." - "No, I'm really trying to stay clean." - "No, I'm trying to cut back." Give a reason why you don't want to drink or use drugs.

    What is demand reduction strategy? ›

    Demand reduction efforts reduce the demand for illegal drugs using prevention, treatment, and research. Supply reduction makes drugs scarcer, more expensive, and less socially tolerated.

    Which of the following is considered a central nervous system stimulant quizlet? ›

    Amphetamines, anorexiants, and analeptics are types of CNS stimulants. Amphetamines stimulate the release of norepinephrine and dopamine from the brain and sympathetic nervous system (peripheral nerve terminals) and inhibit the reuptake of these transmitters.

    Which of the following factors influence the length of time that a drug can be detected in someone's blood urine saliva or other body tissues? ›

    Hydration levels, body mass, and physical activity affect how long drugs will be detectable. 2 Drug detection times can be much longer for people with increased fatty tissues, because some drugs, or their metabolites, tend to accumulate in those tissues.

    What is an example of supply reduction? ›

    Examples of supply reduction initiatives to limit the availability of illicit drugs include: law enforcement operations involving drug seizures and arrests; disrupting the diversion of precursor chemicals that are used in the manufacture of illicit drugs.

    What is more effective demand reduction or supply reduction? ›

    Supply reduction is extremely expensive, has substantial unintended consequences and will only ever have limited success as long as lots of people want to take drugs. Demand reduction is slow and often unrealistic but is does share some strategies with harm reduction such as drug substitution.

    What is supply reduction strategy? ›

    Supply reduction strategies are directed toward enforcing the prohibition of illegal drugs and regulating and enforcing access to legal drugs and substances, particularly those that are of a high probability for abuse, including pharmaceuticals and other precursors and essential chemicals.

    Which CNS stimulant drug affects the cerebral cortex of the brain? ›

    Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology Overview
    PRIMARY SITE OF ACTIONCNS STIMULANTS
    Cerebrovascular system, 5-HT1D/1B receptorsSerotonin agonists
    Cerebral cortexAmphetamines, phenidates, modafinil, armodafinil
    Hypothalamic and limbic regionsAnorexiants
    Medulla and brainstemAnaleptics
    9 May 2017

    What are side effects of stimulants? ›

    Many users experience a loss of appetite, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and body temperature, interrupted sleep patterns, panic, hallucinations, and irritability. Taking high dosages of stimulants can result in convulsions, seizures, and possibly even death.

    Which of the following is a risk of ingesting too much of a CNS depressant? ›

    Excessive consumption of depressants can lead to respiratory depression, seizures, and potentially even death. CNS depressants should not be combined with any medication or substance that causes sedation, including prescription pain medicines, certain over-the-counter allergy medications, and alcohol.

    Will menstrual blood affect urine drug test? ›

    Menstrual blood can contaminate a urine sample. Vitamin C supplements, food coloring in candy, and the natural color in beets can affect the color of your urine. Medicines can also affect your results: Anthraquinone laxatives.

    Can a drug test tell how much Adderall is in your system? ›

    Adderall is detectable in urine for 72-96 hours after last use, in blood for up to 46 hours, in saliva for 20-50 hours, and in hair for up to 3 months. The length of time it can be detected is influenced by several factors, including urine pH, weight, frequency of use, dose, age, and last use.

    Will menstrual blood affect urine test? ›

    If you're menstruating (on your period), it's important to let your provider know before collecting your urine sample. Menstrual blood, as well as vaginal discharge, can interfere with certain urinalysis test results.

    Videos

    1. KS Harm Reduction Advocacy Presentation Y22
    (The Kansas Prevention Collaborative)
    2. Policing and Harm Reduction panel
    (Bloomberg American Health Initiative)
    3. Deep Dive into Harm Reduction Strategies
    (Possibility Seeds)
    4. Session 2 of Global Crisis and Change: Overdose and Health Justice during and after COVID-19
    (David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA)
    5. WEBINAR: How Peer Specialists Can Support Harm Reduction
    (Mental Health America Webinars)
    6. 2015 Harm Reduction Meeting: Full Video of Presentations
    (Health Policy and Management - JHSPH)

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