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Harm Reduction Strategies Highlighed At Conference To Combat Addiction

Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) shows a drug disposal kit at the Public Health Conference. (Jill Sheridan/IPB News)

Harm reduction strategies for people dealing with opioid addiction were highlighted at a public health conference in Indianapolis.  These strategies include access to the overdose reversal medicine naloxone, safe prescription disposal and syringe exchanges.  

About 350 people from around the state attended the Public Health Conference led by Indiana University’s Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge.

IUPUI Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health Dr. Joan Duwve says there are many misconceptions about harm reduction methods and no evidence they increase drug use.

"What harm reduction really does is treat people as valuable human beings and meets them where they are to engage in life saving conversations," says Duwve. 

Duwve says harm reduction practices can provide an opportunity for a person to access treatment.

"We begin to understand how it’s important to have conversations with persons to engage them wherever they are, on that continuum of use, interest in recovery and then the path of recovery," says Duwve. 

At the conference, a coalition announced a gift of 15,000 safe drug disposal kits to Indiana organizations. There was also a mobile syringe exchange unit on site.

As part of the event, Gov. Eric Holcomb proclaimed Oct. 11, 2018 as Harm Reduction Day.

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