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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

Harm Reduction by Patricia Petrusik

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The issue of addiction has finally been put on the front burner. There is new legislation, forums, opioid research, new treatment ideas and harm reduction. According to Wikipedia, harm reduction is a range of public health policies designed to lessen the negative social and/physical consequences associated with various human behaviors, both legal and illegal.  In my opinion, harm reduction is not the best way to stop drug addiction but it is one way and can save one life by giving people the chance for recovery. Many cities are now giving out clean needles which reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis. This is an evidence based reduction program. If drug users don't die from an overdose or consequences of HIV or Hepatitis, they have a chance to recover. Some cities have also established safe houses where drug users can use and medical personal are nearby in case of an overdose.  These programs are run by people in recovery and can give hope to a user but most communities do not want drug users gathering in their neighborhoods.

Act 139 is another form of harm reduction. Dr. Rachel Levine, our Physician General for the Commonwealth wrote a general prescription for Narcan or Naloxone.  Anyone can go to a drug store and purchase this opioid antidote. If given in time and depending on the persons preexisting conditions, the drugs that was used and the potency of the drug, the person can be revived.  There is an ad on TV recommending the purchase of Narcan or Naloxone but like ACT 139, it does not mention treatment. I have worked with people court ordered for drug and alcohol treatment and have seen first-hand that they can be successful. Clean needles, safe houses, Narcan, court ordered treatment are all examples of harm reduction. Prevention is also part of the treatment for the opioid epidemic and a form of harm reduction. Talking to your kids about drugs is not a guarantee that they will not try them but it is a way to fight this disease. Prevention establishes a drug free policy.  Your words are in their head rather than someone offering them drugs, because someone will offer them drugs.

Check out Narcan and the Invincibility of Youth on my website; It is a 5th,6th,,7th 8th  and 9th grade  Algebra I  lesson which was inspired by a question raised by one of the teachers during my presentation, “The Transition Needs of Students in Recovery.” She said that some of her students told her that they were not afraid of using heroin because if they overdosed, they would get Narcan and be saved. They told her they were having opioid parties and taking Narcan with them to the party.

Someone is the designated person to administer the Narcan in case of an overdose!  Youth think they are invincible and they think that one dose of Narcan can bring them back to life. This antidote can bring someone back to life but they can come back brain damaged. This thought is an example of stinking thinking and the invincibility of youth.

Harm reduction products and ideas are only one part of the plan to overcome addiction, but they can give someone the chance to recover.

Patricia Petrusik, author of The Sober Cat retired from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in the Pittsburgh area. She holds a guidance certificate K-12 and an addiction certificate, C.A.A.P. She also developed an educational game, “The Slippery Slope of Substance Abuse.”

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