Practical harm reduction – Alcohol and other drugs – half day

This skill-based course enables staff to feel more confident in supporting the health and wellbeing of people with alcohol and drug issues.


The UK drug strategy (2010) states that its mission is to create an abstinent, “drug-free” society. Simultaneously, regarding alcohol, the recent Commission on Alcohol Harm (2020), has shown that the focus of intervention has been on encouraging individual drinkers to reduce or abstain from alcohol rather than focussing on structural or strategic change.

The Pandemic has made clear the limitations of these approaches as many drug users and drinkers turn to their substance of choice to cope with an increasingly stressful existence.

This in turn has led to the re-emergence of “harm reduction” approaches that accept that drug and alcohol use will continue, but can be made safer.

This course focusses on evidence-based, interventions that have been shown to save lives. Participants will be offered a range of practical suggestions that can be taught to and employed by drug and alcohol users.

Who is the session for?

This session is appropriate for a wide range of workers, who will or do encounter alcohol and drug use as part of their role. It is particularly suitable for workers who are required to have detailed conversations about a client’s substance use.

Session timings:

This training is delivered as a half-day course.

Session objectives:

By the end of the session, participants will:

  • understand the concept of and rationale for, harm reduction
  • consider how the potential for alcohol and drug related harm has increased during recent years
  • be able to identify a wide range of potential harms for the individual user and their impact on others
  • explore in-depth ways of reducing harm relative to where individuals are on the cycle of change
  • be able to access online resources that support health and reduce harm

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  • Each course can be delivered online or face-to-face and will last one day unless specified
  • Up to 16 participants can attend
  • Handouts and a PowerPoint presentation will be provided to support the course
  • The course requires a room large enough for 16 people to work flexibly in groups
  • A flipchart stand, pens and paper is required plus a projector and wall or screen for projecting an image
  • The trainer will bring a laptop

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