Balance Restoration through Harm Reducation


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Poster on Aboriginal views on Harm Reduction

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Balance Restoration through Harm Reducation

  1. 1. Introduction “ The individualist approach to social problems is basically selfish .” Rosenthal 2007 North American culture looks at problems of substance abuse as individual problems rather than looking at the larger societal picture. In individualistic societies we blame the individuals, often missing the larger patterns and forces at work. Most social ills are seen as the result of actions by people who are “bad”. The individualistic perspective frequently narrows the ethical discussions to consideration of individual rights rather that collective goals and responsibilities. We are far too focused on individual behaviour to see the larger context that encourages people to act ethically. Restoring Balance through Harm Reduction Strong social expectations are not good reasons for making a particular ethical decision. Collective cultures, like First Nations, have been impacted by colonialism, residential schools, changing gender roles, poverty, capitalism, and a foreign justice system, to name a few. The loss of culture, language, traditions, and ceremonies has resulted in an imbalance to traditional ways of living. The resulting loss of balance and harmony has resulted in pain: Mental, Spiritual, Emotional and Physical. <ul><li>Cycle of Pain and Trauma and Harm </li></ul>Conclusions Leaders hold the power to help. The community has been lulled into inaction. Need to challenge First Nations with new concepts and ways of dealing with new harms and disease processes. HR new to First Nations, concepts need to be culturally appropriate and incorporate language, beliefs, and traditions People need empowerment to negotiate safe and responsible sexual relationships; gender inequalities must be confronted; and those who choose to have sex need access to condoms. Needle exchanges should be encouraged, as they have proven highly effective at preventing HIV and HCV transmission among injecting drug users. The problematic use of drugs is not the “problem”, it is a symptom of much broader social problems that face First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada. Balance can be restored through Harm Reduction. Greg Riehl RN, BScN, MA(c) Board Member – Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care References: Beware the Middle Ground Susan Rosenthal    (November 2007) Embracing Harm Reduction with a Traditional Aboriginal Perspective. Lucy Barney 2006. Flexibility of Treaty Provisions as Harm Reduction Approaches. Harm reduction services for British Columbia's First Nation population: a qualitative inquiry into opportunities and barriers for injection drug users. Wardman, D. & Quantz, D. (2006). http:// =1618833 Harm Reduction: Questions and Answers. Joining the Circle: An Aboriginal Harm Reduction Model. Developed by CAAN. http:// Reducing the Harm Associated with Injection Drug Use in Canada. Tories plan get-tough national drug strategy. For further information Greg Riehl 306.352.1045 [email_address] Imbalance Creates Illness Aboriginal peoples are infected at a younger age than non-Aboriginal persons. Further research is needed on the pattern of HIV/AIDS and HIV testing among Aboriginal peoples to increase our understanding of the specific impact of HIV on Aboriginal peoples to guide prevention and control strategies. “ Learning how to cope with a lack of survival skills groomed me to become a victim and feel vulnerable to mainstream society.” Ken Ward “ We are sitting on a powder keg and decisions about what is needed must come from the people, who must take ownership of the issue.” Ken Ward In Canada, the window on Harm Reduction is either closed or very nearly closed. The most current strategy on drugs is an Anti-Drug Strategy The war on drugs has become a war on sick people, a war on patients, and advocates and caregivers are often caught in the crossfire. Disease specific policies and programs can be a barrier; likewise, a one size fits all solution can also be a barrier. Can Harm Reduction be seen from an Aboriginal perspective? Medicine Wheel The Medicine Wheel shows the path out of conflict begins at the center There is calm and power at the center - where honesty is considered more important than loyalty. Stigma and Discrimination can be addressed with a goal to restore balance. “ Addiction is the product of a poisoned environment that kills the spirit . . . And causes illness of the mind and body ” Lucy Barney 2006 How they define Harm Reduction HR is not a moralistic concept HR is a pragmatic solution to the very serious issues of HIV infection. HR is intended to be a value neutral approach and makes no assumptions The intention of HR is to help people make informed decisions and empower them to reduce the risk of HIV infection. (Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN)) WISDOM CLARITY OF PURPOSE COMMUNITY PEOPLE A culturally competent Harm Reduction program supports culturally and linguistically appropriate community-based interventions Designed and delivered by First Nations people to meet the needs of their community members. In particular, good Harm Reduction programs strongly support the participation of those living with HIV/AIDS in the process. Holistic approach to address issues and factors that impact HIV/AIDS targeting not just the disease, but also the social determinants of health and economic circumstances. It is recognized that the whole family (broadly defined) is as impacted by the disease and needs healing just as the individual with HIV/AIDS needs care, treatment and support. Acknowledgments I thank the First Nations Cree and Dene elders of Saskatchewan for their guidance and teachings, and for all the at risk and positive people that I have worked with over the years. “ Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.” Marilyn Ferguson (b.1938) TREATMENT THERAPY JUSTICE STI’s HIV HCV PRISON ADDICTION RISKY BEHAVIOUR METHODS TO DECREASE OR HIDE PAIN PAIN TRAUMA - Introduction of Stigma and Discrimination -Loss of Balance -Goal is to restore balance -The path out of conflict begins at the center -There is calm and power at the center -Honesty not loyalty with all interactions -Medicine wheel Law Justice Access to Care Treatment & Support Harm Reduction Prevention PAIN SYSTEMS ORGANIZATIONS REFLECTION ASSESSMENT