Where Does Harm Reduction Fall Within Prevention?

By: Arielle Aigotti

The first step of incorporating harm reduction in prevention is taking away the stigma in prevention work itself. At Prevention is Key, our goal is to be a peer to the community as a whole; which means meeting and accepting people at all of the different places they are in their lives. Our goal as preventionists is to inform the community about substances and allow those individuals to come to their own conclusions with the information given. In the past, prevention has been viewed as a very black-and-white concept. At PIK, we do not have a one-track mind. There is a public health model that outlines different approaches in prevention. A large percentage of prevention work focuses on primary prevention, meaning individuals of all settings, and backgrounds. The goal of primary prevention is to be proactive, therefore the target audience is everyone and anyone. There are many programs provided by PIK that target the entire community. Programs like 7-Habits, WNBI, life skills, and Footprints bring fun and interactive programs to the community. These programs, and others like Hidden in Plain Sight, inform the community of potential harm and risk factors around them “before” they happen. 

In the prevention model secondary and tertiary tiers of prevention are more focused on individuals classified as at risk already. PIK has hosted several trauma attuned series targeting how to handle prevention efforts when there is an issue that is already known, when the risk has already been assessed. Our ACES Work Group, ACES Trauma Attunement series, everything CARES, Hope One, CPRS, and the PEER Youth Mentoring initiative all fall within the secondary and tertiary tiers of prevention. 

Our goal as preventionists when the threat or risk is already known looks a bit different. We work our hardest to create a foundation of respect and understanding, rather than an environment stimulating shame. In order to help someone, there must be a mutual respect in the relationship shared. 

Harm reduction is preventionour jobs here at Prevention is Key & CARES, is to respect and except every individual that seeks help at our agency in a way that is personalized to who they are. There are multiple pathways to prevention and to recovery! Prevention is Key has the capability to assist anyone to get on the path they need to go! Check out PIK’s new PEER Youth Mentoring program! We are currently recruiting mentees! If you or anyone you know could benefit from having a peer to talk to check out our program!