3. Supporting your Family Member’s Recovery
The principles of harm reduction
Harm reduction is one of the four pillars of Canada’s Drug Strategy. The principles of harm reduction include the following:
It is important to understand that when using a harm reduction approach, the person with the substance use problem defines their own goal. They may choose to begin by working on a goal to completely stop the use of a substance (abstinence), or they may choose to reduce their use so it no longer results in negative consequences. As a person moves through treatment, their goal may change over time. Using this approach, you still work with your family member even if they choose to continue using substances (Tsanos, 2014).
Your family member may also have different substance use goals for the different substances they use. When using a harm reduction approach, they may have a goal of abstinence from one drug (e.g., cocaine), but not all drugs (e.g., cannabis and tobacco). You can support them at any stage of their recovery.