SHOWS + PODCASTS

Why harm reduction can be an important form of addiction recovery

Oct 14, 2020, 12:26 PM

harm reduction...

Mary Jo McMillin, the Executive Director of USARA joined the Project Recovery podcast to talk about how harm reduction is helping those who suffer from substance abuse find a way towards sobriety.

SALT LAKE CITY — For many who struggle with addiction or substance abuse, it may seem like the options for recovery are limited. Luckily, many are finding that harm reduction can be a great alternative to the traditional steps towards recovery.  

Mary Jo McMillin, the Executive Director at USARA joined the Project Recovery podcast to talk about the impact that harm reduction is having on those in recovery.

How harm reduction is correlated with addiction recovery

According to the National Harm Reduction Coalition, harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing the negative consequences associated with drug use. While it may seem obscure at first, harm reduction actually has many benefits to a person’s recovery says McMillin.

“If we look at people who have struggled with substances, whether they’re identified as dependent or not, or if they’re somebody who may not want to stop using substances, they’re a person,” she said. “They’re a person who truly wants to feel better, to have their life be better.”

When it comes to recovery and the steps that are required to live a life of sobriety, McMillin knows that first hand. She has been in long-term recovery for thirty-five years herself after going into treatment for an eating disorder decades ago.

Now she and USARA are fighting to help others stay on their own road to recovery. They’re doing so by implementing their own harm reduction strategies.

The ins-and-outs of harm reduction

Harm reduction is a relatively new term in the world of addiction but it’s taking the addiction world by storm. The general concept is to include safer use, manage that use, and creating conditions for said use.

McMillin says that a patient might be addicted to opioids but using harm reduction might include specifically targeted medication to help curb that addiction.

“With harm reduction, when we have people who have been using opiates for a long time, they need medication. They need something that stabilizes their brain and their physical condition so that they can function,” she added.

McMillin also says that for some people, it might be safe to drink. But for others, it might not be while in the process of implementing harm reduction strategies. She also adds that it’s hard to know how each person handles these strategies. But by building up “recovery capital” such as having a safe place to live, providing for yourself and your family, and moving towards health social practices, the patient gets closer and closer to becoming substance-free.

Why support is so important to USARA

While there are many organizations trying to help others overcome substance abuse and addiction, USARA is unique says McMillin.

According to McMillin, USARA comes from a place where they’ve been through the struggle because their employees know addiction firsthand.

“We are a called a recovery community organization and it is run by people in recovery themselves,” McMillin said. “[We] are people with a lived experience so [we] are individuals who have had a substance abuse disorder, struggled with addiction themselves.”

And that’s what makes them so unique says McMillin. It also opens up the door to understanding the role harm reduction plays on a recovering addict.

They’re not worried about the labels of addiction according to McMillin. USARA’s goal is to be supportive and helpful in any way possible and quite often, that starts with a conversation.

“When we meet with somebody, it’s [for] the individual. We’re not sitting down saying what drugs are you using or how much are you drinking,” McMillin described. “We’re not identifying them by a label, we’re addressing them as a person.”

And this support is extremely crucial to providing the best care possible for the patient.

“Support is really important and harm reduction would be a medication or it might be their continued use. How can we support you as you continue to use so you don’t wind up becoming homeless or something that would actually cause you more harm.”

Listen to the podcast to learn more about harm reduction and other ways to prevent substance abuse

For more information on opioid prevention or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook, KSL TV, or from Use Only as Directed. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Shows + Podcasts

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

The hidden dangers of too much sugar

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Health Educator Troy Duell to learn about the hidden dangers of sugar.

1 day ago

ksl movie show review host steve salles next to outlaw posse poster...

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show review: ‘Outlaw Posse’ goes off the rails, loses storyline

In this KSL Movie Show review, we travel back in time to the wacky western world of "Outlaw Posse."

2 days ago

(Utah State Capitol.  Photo: Paul Nelson)...

Mariah Maynes

Gov. Cox not planning to veto any 2024 legislative session bills

As the 2024 Utah legislative session draws to a close, Gov. Cox said he is not planning to veto any bills. 

3 days ago

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Scot Peterson shown, a school arming school staff is aw...

Curt Gresseth

Utah lawmaker discusses arming school workers

Arming school workers will lead to safer schools, says a Utah lawmaker whose bill awaits the governor's pen to become law.

3 days ago

Tulips are bulbs that you plant in the fall so they can be ready in the spring. They typically come...

Michelle Lee

It’s time for tulips to bloom

Tulips are getting ready to bloom. If you planted these in the fall, your garden will soon be filled with bright and colorful bulbs.

3 days ago

ksl movie show review host steve salles next to dune part two poster...

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show review: ‘Dune: Part Two’ is a masterclass in cinematic world-building

In this KSL Movie Show review, we dive into the larger-than-life world of "Dune: Part Two," which picks up where the first part left off.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Why harm reduction can be an important form of addiction recovery