'Rita says' posters can be downloaded by clicking on Rita's image
SAOL uses the following principles in our harm reducing practice while working with people in all stages of recovery:
- SAOL believes that recovery begins when the individual starts to address the negative impact their drug use is having on their lives. Recovery is not an end point but a continuum of self-discovery and change.
- SAOL accepts, for better or worse, that licit and illicit drug use is part of recovery and chooses to work to minimise its harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them. SAOL also accepts that a drug free future is a realistic goal for all of our participants but also believes that harm reduction intervention is required throughout this journey.
- SAOL understands that drug use is a complex, multi-faceted, bio-psycho-social phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviours from severe use to total abstinence, and acknowledges that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others. SAOL knows that abstinence requires specific support and that harm reduction information inclusive of relapse prevention work is essential for recovery safety.
- SAOL believes that an increase in the quality of individual and community life and well-being, and not necessarily cessation of all drug use, is the main criteria for successful interventions and policies. This, SAOL believes, is part of the recovery continuum.
- SAOL supports the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm and stepping on the ladder of recovery. SAOL supports all policies and actions that attempt to ease the particular burden of social deprivation on individuals and communities struggling with drug use and recognises the extra difficulties such deprivation places on those in recovery.
- SAOL ensures that our participants (who are drug users and/or with a history of drug use) routinely have a real voice in the creation of programmes and policies designed to serve them; and that programmes are inclusive of harm reducing information that covers all aspects of their lives, i.e. bio-psycho-socially.
- SAOL affirms participants in recovery as the primary agents of reducing the harms of their changing drug use; and seeks to empower participants to share information and support each other in strategies which meet their actual conditions of use.
- SAOL recognises that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other social inequalities affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug-related harm.
- SAOL does not attempt to minimise or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger associated with licit and illicit drug use.
(Expanded from the ‘Principles of harm reduction’ of the Harm Reduction Coalition)