Harm Reduction consists of a set of practical strategies and ideas that are aimed to eliminate the negative consequences of drug use. At first, the term was used to address substance users, but soon, more studies were implemented for other groups as well. Professional nurses are trained especially to employ harm reduction techniques whenever needed. The training can be done while taking care of a patient or at an administrative level.
The primary goals of harm reduction are to reduce or completely eliminate the undesirable health conditions that patients may face while not interrupting their behavior. A nurse should not force a patient to change their behavior and should know how to provide the best solution to protect the patient and the public from as many resulting consequences of their behavior as possible. Here are some of the harm reduction programs.
Needle exchange programs
In order to control and eliminate the spread of blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis, a nurse much make sure that every drug user gets a sterile new needle. All the used needles must be disposed of safely. The needle exchange program is meant to generate awareness of responsible disease prevention while also referring patients to the right counseling and treatment programs.
Smoking cessation during pregnancy
Smoking is always harmful to our health, but a pregnant woman can face more severe consequences if she cannot leave her habit of smoking during pregnancy. Smoking can cause serious and irreparable harm to a fetus. There are public health initiatives to create awareness in society about the dangers of smoking during the period of pregnancy. The program does not stop them from smoking after delivery.
Supervised injection facilities
After the opioid crisis, several countries have built their own supervised injection facilities to provide a controlled and safe environment for substance use. The users can visit these safe and clean locations and bring illicit substances for administered consumption. These services are well equipped with healthcare services. The nurses and healthcare providers distribute sterile needles and take care of the patients in case they suffer from overdoses or adverse reactions. The nurses are also supposed to refer the patients to counseling and treatment programs if they want the information. This program has been found effective in reducing the rate of overdose deaths and the spread of blood transmitted diseases.
The nurses learn the art of patience and acceptance to learn how to be completely harmless to the patient. They need to be nonjudgemental and should acknowledge the patient’s autonomy as their requirement. Whether or not a patient is involved in illicit drug use, their role is to inform the patient about health and risks as many times as needed. They are also meant to find programs and refer them to patients’ time on time, but cannot force the programs on them. This can help in slow understanding between the nurse and patient that will reduce the harm while not trying to eliminate it completely.