Formulating policies and managing programs for the reduction of harmful consequences of drug use is commonly known as “harm reduction”. These harms may be either social, mental or economic. Such programs make the addicted people safe by providing environments that prevent overdose or other services like distribution of sterile needles, recovery of used ones and awareness about their safe disposal.
In Arizona, there have been many programs initiated and implemented. “Arizona Angel Initiative” and “Shot in the Dark” are two of them. The Arizona Angel Initiative is a program designed to help the addicts recover from drug addictions. It is assisted by the police as the goal of the program is a priority of the state. The purpose of the program is the provision of required resources that help addicts in preventing the abuse, proper treatment and recovery from abuse. People who have been identified with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) are being treated. This program helps in removing the stigmatization of drug abuse and helps families come out of it and this nourishes communities.
The Shot in the Dark also aims at harm reduction through provision of sterile syringes, their disposal, education and awareness and treatment. This program is aimed at the outcasts of communities including the sex workers, making them realize the importance of their wellbeing, to help them overcome the problem, through insightful education and awareness. It helps prevent the menace of infections of IV and reverse overdose by Naloxone. The rationale behind this program is that research has shown that syringe access programs (SAPs) don’t stimulate a high level of abuse, in fact, reduce the abuse by linking the addicts to treatment. People who have been part of SAPs had a higher ratio of reduction in substance abuse and the crime rate in areas where SAPs were functional, decreased.
The NARBHA Substance Abuse Prevention Program and the Arizona Substance Abuse Partnership have been used in past years to reduce the harms of substance abuse. The former efforts to prevent substance abuse in northern Arizona at local and regional level. The prevention providers work with community based coalitions, comprising of young individuals and adults, for data and evidence based strategizing and reduction of drug abuse. It uses SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) to select, implement and evaluate the decisions taken. The model includes promotion, prevention, treatment and maintenance as components. It has been substantially effective in decreasing behavioural and health disorders and costly treatment services needs. It has also proved to build the skills of participants and awareness at community level. It has also been helpful in effective identification, development and use of available resources.
The later is a statewide council and focuses on preventing and treating substance abuse. It comprises of federal and state government officials and community representatives.
The cultural factors have an influence on drug abuse prevention and treatment as some groups are culturally and socially well off while other may not be. As the social outcasts like the sex workers and uneducated homeless people are left out of such programs, most of the time. The policies should be formulated such that they must be inclusive for all social classes and all should be given equal importance and provision of treatment and other services.
It is important because females happen to encounter more barriers to access treatment. They are also sent to mental health or primary care organizations that are less efficient in treating them than specialized treatment programs. But studies show that segregated treatment is no more effective than non-segregated treatment, however females may prefer to get treated in segregated settings. There is a need to assist people getting treatment in mental and primary care institutions and refer them to specialized treatment where need be. And people benefitting from gender specific settings should be treated accordingly. The risk factors specific to both genders should also be considered.
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