Harm Reduction

“Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs”

To learn more about harm reduction, click here

Preventing Overdose
How to Recognize an Overdose
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unresponsive to outside stimulus
  • Awake, but unable to talk
  • Breathing is very slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped.
  • For lighter skinned people, the skin tone turns bluish purple, for darker skinned people, it turns grayish or ashen.
  • Choking sounds, or a snore like gurgling noise (sometimes called the “death-rattle”
  • Vomiting
  • Body is very limp
  • Face is very pale or clammy
  • Pulse (heartbeat) is slow, erratic, or not there at all
  • Preventing prescription opioid overdose
  • Addition information can be found here
The Harm Reduction Coalition recommends 5 steps when responding to an opioid overdose
  1. Assessment & stiimulation
  2. Call for help (or administer naloxone, whatever is quickest!)
  3. Administer naloxne
  4. Perform rescue breathing or chest compressions
  5. Aftercare

Naloxone is commonly referred as the opioid reversal drug. It can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. There are three forms of naloxone:
  1. Injectable
  2. Auto injectable
  3. Narcan Nasal spray
    1. NARCAN® Nasal Spray Instructions
    2. Those at risk of an opioid overdose and their family and friends should consider carrying naloxone. No prescription required at a pharmacy.
  4. Naloxone cannot be used to “get high” and has no harmful effects if the person is not overdosing on opiods.
  5. Naloxone has no effects on other drugs such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, which is why it is important to stay with the person in case they need extra doses or emergency medical care
  6. For more information about naloxone:
    1. Naloxone
    2. Harm Reduction Coalition Understanding Naloxone
    3. National Institute of Health: Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone

Good Samaritan Laws

Concepts and Principles of Harm Reduction
  • Fentanyl Testing Strips
  • Syringe Access Programs
    • Syringe services programs (SSPs)( link to this https://www.cdc.gov/ssp/) are community-based prevention programs that can provide a range of services, including linkage to substance use disorder treatment; access to and disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment; and vaccination, testing, and linkage to care and treatment for infectious diseases.
    • SSPs protect the public and first responders by facilitating the safe disposal of used needles and syringes. Providing testing, counseling, and sterile injection supplies also helps prevent outbreaks of other diseases.
    • Nearly thirty years of research shows that comprehensive SSPs are safe, effective, and cost-saving, do not increase illegal drug use or crime, and play an important role in reducing the transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV and other infections.
    • Materials on Syringe Services Programs
      • Summary of Information on the Safety and Effectiveness of SSPs: a summary outlining the evidence of SSP effectiveness on reducing HIV and viral hepatitis for use by state and local health departments, national partners, and decision-makers
      • SSP Fact Sheet: a fact sheet that includes evidence that SSPs can help prevent transmission of blood-borne infections, help stop substance use, and help support public safety
      • SSP Infographic:  What are SSPs?, a handout for state and local health departments and community partners that describes what SSPs are and what they can do – available in a print and web format
      • SSP FAQ: frequently asked questions and answers about SSPs with supporting evidence for use by state and local health departments, national partners, and decision-makers