How to include Harm Reduction for alcohol in treatment facilities: which are the needs that consumers claim?
Alcohol is the most prevalent substance use globally and scientific evidence is clear: alcohol is the most damaging substance to the consumer and wider society and is associated with the greatest burden of disease. This is also true in Portugal.
In 2019 we designed a Harm Reduction (HR) program pretending to meet people where they are at with their drinking. Instead of demanding abstinence at first glance, our pragmatic approach intends to be supportive of anyone who wishes to minimize the harm associated with drinking and/or drug use. The research shows that is essential to support every positive change.
Due to pandemic situation it was not possible to implement the program. Consequently, Emergency Centers where created in Lisbon to give response to homeless population, and HR approaches to alcohol were necessary and implemented under the Alcohol Unit of Lisbon supervision. At this point, we decided to develop a questionnaire in order to: 1) know which are the consumers needs giving them voice in this matter; 2) infer if our initial proposal is in line with their real needs; 3) redesign our HR response if necessary.
Apply a questionnaire in paper and digital formats in 2 Lisbon shelter centers.
Given the impossibility to implement our HR program, we decided to do a survey of the real needs felt by consumers, in order to give a better and closer response to their needs. Our work is in line with the current situation in Portugal, in which HR and alcohol-related problems (ARP) are on the agendas of health institutions and HR projects working in the field. We truly believe that is urgent to endorse the importance of HR approach in the National Health Services.