What is harm reduction?
“Harm Reduction refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce the negative health, social and economic consequences that may ensue from the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs, without necessarily reducing drug use.” Canadian Harm Reduction Network, http://canadianharmreduction.com
Since the 1990s, services for pregnant women and mothers using harm reduction approaches have emerged in many areas of Canada. Harm reduction is an approach that helps to reduce the negative effects of alcohol and drug use at the same time as helping women to meet their immediate health, social and safety needs.
Pregnancy is often described as an opportunity to support women in improving their health, including efforts to decrease or stop substance use or increase safer use of drugs. Harm reduction approaches are a pragmatic response to addressing substance use. They recognize that substance use is just one factor among many that shapes a healthy pregnancy and that reducing or stopping substance use at any time during pregnancy can have positive effects on women’s health and the health of the fetus.
Many Canadian programs and services are gaining attention for their successes in using a harm reduction approach to engage pregnant women with problematic substance use, improving women’s health, and ensuring that women and their babies have the best possible start in life. This resource provides a short introduction to harm reduction approaches during pregnancy and uses examples from programs across Canada to illustrate harm reduction ‘in action.’
Click here to download the booklet.
Click here to download the document.
The purpose of this document is to assist those writing and talking about FASD and the issues related to the disability to use the same statistics, framing of topics, and language. The intended outcome, over time, will be an improved understanding by the reader/listener with consistent and respectful FASD messaging.
This is a living document and areas will be updated as it is informed by emerging research.
In order to promote a common language about FASD and to minimize misinterpretation of key issues, we have drafted a suggested definition of FASD. Standard definitions are needed to ensure consistency in administrative, clinical, and research operations. Therefore, we recommend that this definition be used by governments and policy makers across Canada to promote standardized and consistent language when discussing FASD.
Other Key Communication Notes:
Dignity promotion among individuals with FASD and their families:
o This theme should be emphasized in any awareness or prevention programs and an attempt not to make guilt-ridden programs (Manitoba FASD Coalition, 2016)
o When using images, refrain from using photos of fetuses, pregnant bellies without heads and naked women (Canada FASD Research Network, 2018)
o Refrain from stigma-inducing language and use ‘dignity-promoting’ words and phrases. Use language guides resources as a reference (Manitoba FASD Coalition, 2016)
o Practice FASD-informed approaches comprised of awareness, strength-based and person-centred (Rutman, 2016)
o Use accurate and empirically proven facts.
o Refrain from using the statement that FASD is “100% preventable” as this statement greatly oversimplifies the issue.
o In Canada, the terminology ‘Indigenous’ mirrors constitutional language (Retzlaff, 2005) and includes: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples; When referring to
specific groups or cultures, ensure to use the appropriate distinction.
If you haven’t heard, our friend Jeff Noble is hosting a free FASD video mini training series.
A message from Jeff:
I know you’re busy but I know getting some FASD education can save you a lot of frustration, and your sanity! To Download the materials that go along with the video. Make sure to register here : https://www.fasdcaregiverkickstart.com/registration
What’s your poison, people sometimes ask, but Gabor Maté doesn’t want to ask what my poison is, he wants to ask how it makes me feel. Whatever it is I’m addicted to, or ever have been addicted to, it’s not what it is but what it does – to me, to you, to anyone. He believes that anything we’ve ever craved helped us escape emotional pain. It gave us peace of mind, a sense of control and a feeling of happiness.
And all of that, explains Maté, reveals a great deal about addiction, which he defines as any behaviour that gives a person temporary relief and pleasure, but also has negative consequences, and to which the individual will return time and again. At the heart of Maté’s philosophy is the belief that there’s no such thing as an “addictive personality”. And nor is addiction a “disease”. Instead, it originates in a person’s need to solve a problem: a deep-seated problem, often from our earliest years that was to do with trauma or loss.
Maté, a wiry, energetic man in his mid-70s, has his own experience of both childhood trauma and addiction, more of which later. Well-known in Canada, where he lives, he gives some interesting reasons why Britain is “just waking up to me” and his bestselling book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. There’s a generational conflict here, he says, around being open about past trauma: he cites Princes William and Harry opening up about their mother’s death, and says it’s something the Queen’s generation would never have done. He applauds the new approach: “I think they [the princes] are right to be leading and validating that sense of enquiry, without which life is not worth living.”
The infamous British stiff upper lip is something Maté has watched with fascination over the years. Born of our imperial past, he says, it was maintained for as long as there was something to show for it. Boarding school culture and traumatic childhoods played out into dominance of other countries and cultures, giving the “buttoned-up” approach inherent value. But once the empire crumbled, lips quavered.
“With rising inequality and all the other problems there are right now,” he says, “people are having to question how they live their lives. People in Britain are beginning to realise they paid a huge price internally for all those suppressed emotions.”
And addictive behaviour, though damaging in the medium or long term, can save you in the short term. “The primary drive is to regulate your situation to something more bearable.” So rather than some people having brains that are wired for addiction, Maté argues, we all have brains that are wired for happiness. And if our happiness is threatened at a deep level, by traumas in our past that we’ve not resolved, we resort to addictions to restore the happiness we truly crave.
He speaks from experience: Maté is a physician who specialised in family practice, palliative care and, finally, addiction medicine. He became a workaholic and lived with ADHD and depression until, in his 40s and 50s, he began to unravel the root cause – and that took him all the way back to Budapest, where he was born in January 1944. Two months later, the Nazis occupied Hungary: his mother took him to the doctor because he wouldn’t stop crying. “Right now,” the doctor replied, “all the Jewish babies are crying.” This is because, explains Maté, what happens to the parent happens to the child: the mothers were terrified, the babies were suffering, but unlike their mothers they couldn’t understand what the suffering was about.
Read the full article here.