20. A Pragmatic, Humanistic and Effective Approach to Additions: The Importance of Harm Reduction

Think about the child who spins madly in order to make themselves dizzy or experience euphoria; the student who says “I can’t face this class without another big cup of coffee;” the professional who ends the day with a glass (or two) of wine or bourbon. Engaging in practices that are pleasurable, mind altering or stimulating—including the use of substances—is not unusual in any society. For most people, and this includes the majority of individuals who experience homelessness, such practices are not particularly harmful, and may even have a positive impact on health and well-being.  For others, however, the use of substances—both legal and illegal—can be debilitating, and can undermine relationships, health and survival.

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Inclusion Working Group
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness