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Harm Reduction = Opportunity to Live

Here's one of the biggest problems for someone with substance abuse disorder. To begin with, there is a saying that goes like this: "Addicts either end up in prison, on the streets, or dead." That is not true, but sadly there's a lot of truth to it. After recovery happens and the person is no longer in prison or on the streets, they face monumental challenges getting back on track.

First, they have no money, no resume or job references, no transportation (most of OC doesn't have good public transportation), and maybe nowhere to live.

The second thing is, they probably have no one to support them until they get back on their feet. The "friends" they've had for years that are still using are most likely to offer a place to stay and eventually that leads to the person using again. It's too easy to go back to using, it seems like the best alternative when you have nothing.

And once you start using again your daily goal is to not get sick. You wake up in the morning and know you have a limited number of hours until you will start to go into withdrawals. To understand this, you need to know that withdrawals from heroin make you feel like you're going to die and withdrawals from fentanyl make you want to die. (see below for specific symptoms) People who judge them for this or think they need to go to jail have no idea what it's like. Unless you've been there or loved someone who has, you might just shrug and think "it's not my problem." I don't have answers, but I wish I did. Keeping people alive gives them a chance to live a drug-free life. The importance of harm reduction and medically assisted treatment can't be overstated. Suboxone and Sublocade give people a fighting chance. Narcan saves lives, clean syringes save lives. Almost every "drug addict" has a brokenhearted family who wants to help, but there's nothing we can do other than love and support them. And as so many of us have learned, its not enough to fight the beast of opiate addiction. Love and support help but they don't save people. Harm reduction and MAT help save people.

So what can we do? We can support harm reduction with our voices, our votes and with compassion.

Harm reduction helps people who use drugs avoid life threatening infections and/or overdose. But it’s also treating people who use drugs with kindness and respect. The fact is there are millions of people using drugs. If it were easy to stop, if it were a matter of a strong will or a complete surrender - the problem would resolve itself. But it's one of the hardest things to do, that's why people die before they have the chance to get better.

I respect and admire anyone who has quit using opiates and created a "good life" for themselves. But relapses are always a possibility. On Facebook and Instagram, I see Keven's and Anthony's friends working, raising kids, and having fun. It makes me so happy for them. Harm reduction and MAT gives people the chance to get to that place.

To learn more about it here is Harm Reduction 101 from Shatterproof's website.

Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Aches and pains in the muscles and bones.

  • Insomnia or poor sleep.

  • Increased sensitivity to pain.

  • Dysphoria*

  • Irritability.

  • Uncontrollable leg movements.

  • Enlarged pupils.

  • Chills.

  • Goosebumps.

  • Sweating.

  • Yawning.

  • Runny nose.

  • Teary eyes.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Fever.

  • Severe opioid cravings.


Thank you. "Keeping people alive gives them a chance to live a drug-free life."


LEE Varon
LEE Varon
Sep 02, 2023

So true! And so clearly written! Harm reduction gives people another day/ another chance! Thank you!

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