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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Harm Reduction:  A Comprehensive Response to Substance Related Disorders

by Coreena Hendrickson, LCSW 2 CE Credits

Alcoholism and drug addiction are major contributing factors in chronic and infectious diseases, hospital emergency room visits, infant mortality rates, violence and crime, and auto fatalities.  The damage to the individual, their families, and society at large is immeasurable.  Science defines addiction as a chronic disease and yet, for too long we have treated it as a moral failing rather than a public health problem.  The use of drugs and alcohol is a complex phenomenon and encompasses a continuum of behaviors from occasional use to chronic addiction, with varying degrees of personal and social harm. Harm reduction is a comprehensive approach to reducing individual and social harms associated with the misuse of drugs and alcohol.  Harm reduction begins with prevention, can be integrated into abstinence-based substance abuse treatment, and improves patient retention in order to promote sustained remission.  This course presents the basic principles of harm reduction and provides evidenced-based strategies to reduce the harms associated with problematic substance use.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours, ASWB CE clock hours (Substance Abuse), and NYSED CE credit.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction/Relevance
  • Harm Reduction: Definition, Underlying Principles, and History
  • Opposing Attitudes toward Harm Reduction
  • The Controversy Associated with Harm Reduction: The Basis of the Opposition
  • Evidence-Based and Effective Harm Reduction Strategies
  • A Note on Harm Reduction and Youth: Targeted Interventions
  • A Comprehensive Model
  • Summary
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Define harm reduction, articulate its underlying principles and relate its distinction from traditional approaches within the context of substance abuse, addiction and public health.
  • Discuss at least three sources of controversy associated with harm reduction.
  • Identify 4 theory- and evidence-based harm reduction strategies and their clinical applications, as well as 4 interventions targeted specifically to at-risk youth that are framed within a harm reduction approach.
  • Describe the integration of abstinence-based treatment within a harm reduction framework.