The number of people addicted to drugs is increasing in the U.S., and this problem becomes one of the most crucial ones in modern times. In turn, it also leads to many other issues that require specific attention and solution measures. For example, researchers note that “about 50,000 people become infected with HIV every year in the United States alone” (Kulikowski & Linder, 2018, p. 46). This is a direct consequence of the negligence of drug use that threatens the further spread of HIV on an epidemic scale and the decreased number of active addicts seeking medical attention. Therefore, it is essential to pay increased attention to developing particular harm reduction programs and approaches that may assist medical workers in addressing this public health concern. Thus, the research topic of this paper is the following: introducing harm reduction nurses into substance abuse treatment centers as community outreach to bridge the gap between active addicts receiving harm reduction and seeking out treatment.
It is hard to disagree that some interventions and approaches that initially seem effective and promising may ultimately appear to be of little use in solving a problem. That is why it is necessary to formulate a research question, the answer to which will be able to help evaluate the possible effects of the intervention under study. Therefore, this paper aims at answering the following research question: Would have harm reduction programs in treatment centers increase the likelihood of actively using addicts going into treatment?
As a result, from the research topic and question mentioned above, as well as the information discussed below, it is possible to formulate the purpose of this study. Considering numerous problems with people frequently using drugs and the necessity of improving the situation, the main objective becomes evident. Consequently, the research purpose of this paper is to increase the chance of actively using addicts going into treatment.
Phenomenology is the particular research design chosen for this study. This research design is used for identifying a phenomenon and focusing on subjective experiences. In this paper, specific relationships between different harm reduction programs and the likelihood of actively using addicts starting their treatment are the studied phenomenon. To gather necessary information, a number of peer-reviewed and relevant sources are discussed and analyzed in the following section.
Kulikowski and Linder (2018)
There are many studies that focus on discussing the possible positive influence of harm reduction programs on the number of actively using addicts going into treatment. To begin with, in their article “Making the Case for Harm Reduction Programs for Injection Drug Users,” Kulikowski and Linder (2018) study evidence that supports the advantages and efficiency of such strategies and argue for expanding their use in the U.S. They analyze supervised injection sites and needle exchange programs (NEPs) and prove that these options are aimed at improving the safety and health of injecting drug users (IDUs) and protecting their families and the whole community (Kulikowski & Linder, 2018). According to the authors, the harm reduction approach is not a replacement but rather a significant complement to treatment and prevention strategies (Kulikowski & Linder, 2018). Together, they may create a comprehensive public health response.
Apart from studying the overall phenomenon, this article is a valuable contribution to this paper. As stated by Kulikowski and Linder (2018), “NEPs actually reduce drug usage because IDUs are five times more likely to enter treatment programs when accessing NEPs” (p. 48). As for the second discussed option, supervised injection sites, it “may be the first point of engagement for many IDUs, linking an often hard-to-reach population to much-needed healthcare services” (Kulikowski & Linder, 2018, p. 50). Therefore, having harm reduction programs in treatment centers indeed increases the likelihood of actively using addicts going into treatment.
This study aims to expand the current definition of the harm reduction process and include it in medical practices all over the U.S. and the world. Dubois (2017) mentions that HR options are beneficial for the country as it allows the drug user community to become safer and more comfortable for both addicts and non-addicts. Harm reduction approaches like medically supervised injection facilities, naloxone distribution programs, and methadone maintenance treatment options lead to reduced deaths and hospitalizations while actively using addicts’ awareness increases (Dubois, 2017). Persons with a substance abuse disorder can either safely change their habits when being under medical supervision or alter their practices to reduce the chances of being infected. What is more, according to Dubois (2017), an outstanding organization known as the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance is famous for finally gaining access to those addicts who have been inaccessible. Now, these people see that enormous and sincere efforts are put into helping them, and they are more likely to go into treatment voluntarily.
Moreira et al. (2019)
Another study, “Harm Reduction: Trends Being Disputed in Health Policies,” studies harm reduction options, particularly in Brazil. Moreira et al. (2019) use in-depth interviews with various professionals and experts in the field to identify Brazilian drug policies’ underlying harm reduction trends. The authors mention that “HR [harm reduction] is regarded as a set of strategies that may be useful in special situations only and, in this case, it is not an approach incorporated by all practices in the area” (Moreira et al., 2019, p. 316). For example, despite the overall effectiveness of such options, they are unlikely to help crack users. Such people are not capable of self-control, and anticipating the regulated use of this drug is impossible. Therefore, it is doubtful that harm reduction policies will be efficient in all cases, though the authors admit the general efficacy of these options (Moreira et al., 2019).
In her short study titled “A Call to Action: Defining the Acute Care Nurse’s Role in Harm Reduction for Persons with Substance Use Disorder,” the author raises an important question regarding the participation of nurses in HR options (Palumbo, 2019). Indeed, medical workers, particularly nurses, play a significant role in addressing substance abuse. Still, they lack special education that includes management of overdose symptoms, health promotion, overdose prevention, and infection control measures. Therefore, their role may become even more essential if the nurses are provided with harm reduction education. According to Palumbo (2019), “by equipping nurses with clear guidelines, they can expand the impact of their care by implementing evidence-based harm reduction techniques” (p. 236). The author mentions that HR practices assist in reducing involuntary hospitalization and increasing the number of actively using addicts who voluntarily seek medical help (Palumbo, 2019). Thus, these practices are proven to benefit both people with a substance abuse disorder and the whole society.
Dubois, T. M. (Ed.). (2017). Harm reduction. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 28(1), 42. Web.
Kulikowski, J., & Linder, E. (2018). Making the case for harm reduction programs for injection drug users. Nursing, 48(6), 46-51. Web.
Moreira, C. R., Soares, C. B., Campos, C. M. S., & Laranjo, T. H. M. (2019). Harm reduction: Trends being disputed in health policies. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem, 72(3), 312-320. Web.
Palumbo, R. (2019). A call to action: Defining the acute care nurse’s role in harm reduction for persons with substance use disorder. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 30(4), 236-237. Web.