Harm Reduction Revisited
To understand what harm reduction means, ask any parent whose child has died from substance abuse, and they will tell you if they had one more chance to save their child, they would do anything. Anything! To keep their child safe, healthy, and alive. As if suffering the loss of a child isn’t enough, the stigma society attaches to this kind of death often drives parents into despair and isolation.
The bottom line is keeping your child alive and as healthy as long possible if he/she is abusing drugs. Keep in mind, however, that addiction is stronger than a Mother’s love! Many addicts also have mental health issues. Adult addicts (over 18) are often not responsible enough to hold a job, pay rent or find meaningful relationships. Parents might help their addicted adult child to apply for SSI (Social Security Insurance) for food stamps, medical coupons, and subsidized housing if available until you can get them into a drug treatment program. Harm reduction material is available to aid the abusing addict (and their drugging partners) life saving information such as CPR, and what to do if someone overdoses, how to call for help and not be arrested.
Think of harm reduction in this way, you buckled your child into infant seats, and when age appropriate, into car seats to keep them safer while riding in a car. You put a helmet on your child when they rode a bike in order to avoid harmful head injuries should an accident happen. You kept harmful, toxic, cleaning supplies out of reach of your toddler, maybe even used Mr. Yuck stickers. This is all harm reduction! It is saving your child from harm and/or death!
It is important for parents to include harm reduction materials regarding drugs to their adolescent and teenaged children, in order to keep them safe should a drug incident arise. No parent condones drug use or abuse, but we cannot be with our kids 24/7 either. Accidental drug deaths occur much too often. How wise the parent is, who talks openly about what to do if their child should find themselves in a postion that includes drug use. Even if that child does not participate, knowledge regarding harm reduction practices could save the life of a friend or acquaintance.
Many good people are dedicated to changing our out of date drug laws so addiction is no longer treated as a criminal offense. Without harm reduction practices, many of our kids die because their (so-called) friends fear arrest and incarceration, so they flee, leaving the overdose victim to die alone.
Billions of tax dollars has already been spent on an ineffective drug war. Wouldn’t this money be better spent on research, effective drug treatment, honest and truthful drug education for both parents and students, after school, and mentoring programs with positive messages?
“The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.”
A signature quote from the late Jennifer Daley, Mom of Jared. May they both rest in peace.
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