The “Harm Reduction Gap” 

By: Megan Souter, Preventionist

Prevention is Key was excited to host “The Harm Reduction Gap: Helping Individuals Left Behind” on April 17th in Morristown. Dr. Sheila P. Vakharia, Dr. Stephanie Sarabia, and Ms. Emily Monks discussed the importance of seeing harm reduction as a safety net for people with substance use disorder, who are often rejected, abandoned, and left behind by our current system. 

Dr. Vakharia talked first about her best-selling book, “The Harm Reduction Gap”, explaining the “gap” in our current approach to substance use—the harm reduction gap– and the limitations of our current approach to drug use. Dr. Vakharia also discussed local efforts to ensure that people who use drugs and their communities stay safe. 

Dr. Stephanie Sarabia provided attendees with information regarding community-based approaches to engage with people who must manage mental health and substance use disorder. Dr. Sarabia discussed the approaches of other countries to inform practice and policy in the United States, and offered resources about the various 

Emily Monks shared her lived experience with chaotic usage, recovery, and harm reduction. She detailed her experience with the substance use treatment system and how often individuals are not able to define their own definition of recovery, emphasizing how important body autonomy is. Ms. Monks was a fierce advocate for the incorporation of harm reduction and the positive impacts it not only has on the individual, but families and communities. 

The breakfast recognizing “The Harm Reduction Gap: Helping Individuals Left Behind” discussion was a first step for community interested in reducing the public health risks associated with drug use. Attendees received an autographed copy of Dr. Vakharia’s book to further the education and conversation around Harm Reduction. Attendees received an autographed copy of Dr. Vakharia’s book to further the education and conversation around Harm Reduction.