Sunday, 27 March 2011

UK Recovery Federation Consultation 2010: Harm Reduction and Recovery

Consultation 2010: Harm Reduction and Recovery

Here are some notes put together following the discussions in the harm reduction workshops that took place at the UK Recovery Federation conference in May this year.
Harm reduction keeps people alive and out of prison by reducing BBVs and crime and it keeps needles off the streets. Harm reduction is, by definition about negatives: don’t do this and don’t do that.
Recovery is about positives; do this. People in recovery should be visible at every point of the system and especially at the harm reduction interface to inspire others to recover and to ensure that recovery conversations are taking place at every window of opportunity.
People in recovery can make amends by volunteering to disseminate harm reduction messages and activities. We should take the best from mental health recovery. UKRF should model examples of best practice in linking harm reduction and recovery.
There is a model in Sunderland called the “Bow Tie” approach that sees responses that are wider then narrower then wider again. There is a West Sussex social enterprise endeavour that is trying to link harm reduction and treatment and recovery.
Harm reduction is the first step on the “bridge to normal living”. The consensus that methadone reduces crime was fracturing. Respondents said that methadone had simply enabled them to commit more serious crimes (one of which landed a workshop participant with a 10 year sentence).
You cant be authentic and keep on telling the “lie” that methadone medication assisted recovery is a reality – it isn’t. The workshops delivered a direct challenge to the treatment system to showcase examples of people on methadone maintenance who are also living full lives in jobs and looking after children properly etc.
Rowdy Yates had said that harm reduction for individuals was legitimate whereas harm reduction for society was not the legitimate business of theUKRF. Concentration should be given to people who need to reduce harm when people have left treatment for example Hep C. “You can’t sell it if you’re not living it”. Harm reduction is not building based, it should be everywhere.
Mark Gilman

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