Meeting Summary – July 2023: Meeting people where they are: Implementing hospital-based substance use harm reduction

Sep 19, 2023 | Meeting Summary


Perera, R., Stephan, L., Appa, A. et al. Meeting people where they are: implementing hospital-based substance use harm reduction. Harm Reduct J 19, 14 (2022).

Article Summary

Hospital-based substance use disorder care typically focuses on assessing and diagnosing substance use disorders, helping people who are having withdrawal symptoms, and starting patients on medications for addiction treatment. Hospital harm reduction is generally limited to prescribing naloxone (Narcan). Hospitals can better serve people with substance use disorders by adding harm reduction education and giving out harm reduction supplies (like syringes, pipes, and fentanyl test strips) as part of substance use
care. This paper talks about a harm reduction program. Before this program was started, researchers asked patients and doctors what they most needed for harm reduction. They partnered with a community-based organization who provided harm reduction equipment and training. Researchers
worked to get program support from hospital and local government leadership. After making sure local laws were followed and staff were trained, the program started and harm reduction education and supplies were given to hospital patients who use substances. Over a period of a year, program staff provided 195 people with harm reduction kits. This program allowed researchers to advance hospital-based addiction care, better educate and engage patients, staff, and clinicians, and reduce stigma.



Key Themes

Establishing harm reduction efforts in clinical settings is challenging

One challenge to inpatient SU treatment is when patients leave against medical advice

Belief that addiction is a moral failing is a form of stigma

Stigma can impact both patient and caregiver experience around SU treatment

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