2016: Harm Reduction in the House: Growing From Our Roots


Harm Reduction in the House 2016

Growing From Our Roots

UIC Student Center East, 750 S Halsted, Chicago
9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. – 23 September 2016

The 6th annual Harm Reduction in the House conference took place on the 23rd of September 2016.

This conference theme reflects the importance of honoring the roots of harm reduction. We are thrilled to see harm reduction discourse and practice entering the broader workplace and world. At the same time we must reconnect to the grassroots of harm reduction, that is, people as experts in their own lives, helping one another and informing our practice. Together we drew upon the rich roots of harm reduction, explored innovations in the field, and participated in a creative community of helpers.


Opening Session- Nothing About Us Without Us: The Importance of People with Lived Experience (PWLE) in Harm Reduction Work   -Moderator: Soma Navidson ; Panelists: Rodney Dawkins, Leah Levine, and Sergio Tundo 


Psychoanalysis Meets Harm Reduction Psychotherapy   Presented by Erica Ernst & Gina Shropshire
Historically, many psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists have been reluctant to treat participants who are actively using. Working with this population can seem frustrating, confusing and intimidating, and it may require modifications to the frame and clinical stance that feel unnerving. To work effectively with a person who is currently misusing substances, a psychoanalytically-informed practitioner must be flexible, pragmatic and willing to ask for help.Harm Reduction Psychotherapy is based on participant-driven goals, and meets the individual ‘where they’re at’ in a respectful and welcoming manner. There is no requirement for a participant to decrease or discontinue risky behaviors in order to receive treatment. The focus is on helping people to reduce drug-related harm while also addressing co-occurring psychological and emotional difficulties. This pragmatic approach is in contrast with traditional psychoanalysis.
Presenters  will discuss a case, with a dual focus on interventions aimed at helping the participant discover internal meanings of and motivations for use, and interventions focused on here-and-now strategies to help the participant live more safely.
Extended Track: Just Say Know: Safer Substance Use Strategies and  Resources
Presented by Matthew Silver, Maya Doe-Simkins, Valery Shuman, Loki Averro, and Dan Bigg 
The Best Practices of participant-centered care and stage-based interventions may require detailed dialogue about minimizing the dangers and maximizing the benefits of substance use, which requires agility and extensive knowledge. This workshop will dissect some of the rationales and rituals, gear and goals of different substances, drug mixes, and consumption methods. Please plan for hands-on learning with drug consumption equipment and associated injury and infection prevention materials.

Powerpoint: Just Say Know presentation

Be PrEPared! Pre-exposure prophylaxis as a harm reduction tool in HIV prevention
Presented by Iman Little, MPH, Mario Pierce, MA, and Ricky Hill, MA

This workshop will explore Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, a once-a-day pill that helps prevent HIV. Since its approval by the FDA in 2012, PrEP has been shown to significantly reduce the transmission of HIV in people who take it regularly, sometimes by more than 90%. Despite its demonstrated record of success in preventing new HIV infections, PrEP uptake in the United States has been slow. This workshop, framed by the social determinants of health, will:

  • Provide learners with an opportunity to deepen their understanding about HIV/AIDS transmission risk and prevention methods
  • Enhance knowledge about PrEP as a harm reduction option
  • Understand barriers to being prescribed and taking PrEP
  • Begin to identify barriers found in participant’s home communities, and ways to strategize overcoming those barriers
  • Have the chance to hear from people who are currently taking PrEP

Powerpoint: Be PrEPared! presentation


Finding Common Ground: Bridging the Gap Between Harm Reduction and 12 Step 
Presented by: Kathie Kane-Willis, Chad Sabora, Lucien Izraylov, and Vilmarie Narloch
This session will bring together two people in recovery (both practitioners) and one former user (a harm reduction policy advocate) to discuss how each has come to understand the value that both harm reduction and 12 step approaches bring towards getting better. Is harm reduction compatible with the 12 steps? How can we work together? How do we support one other’s ways of getting better and how do we carry this forward into our work?


Bringing Naloxone to Your Agency  Presented by Erica Ernst, Soma Navidson
Although Naloxone (Narcan) has been around for decades, recent media attention has brought it to the forefront. A handful of local social service agencies have made it available in select programs, but direct distribution to participants has been slower to take hold.
In this workshop, we will review:
  • Available formulas
  • Steps necessary for program rollout
  • Policies
  • Getting buy-in

Naloxone will be available for demonstration and distribution to interested parties. What has worked and what has held up this process will be reviewed. Problem solving and work-arounds, as well as suggestions for partnerships with other agencies will be explored.

Powerpoint: Bringing Naloxone to Your Agency workshop

How to Coach Others in Independent Problem Solving   Presented by Roberta Walker
Participants will learn and practice a problem solving model that encourages people to develop independent problem solving skills, promoted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Honoring the harm reduction principles of self-determination, autonomy, and respect, this problem-solving framework encourages people to develop and test their own solutions to life’s challenges.
Objectives include:

  • Participants will identify five steps in problem solving sequence
  • Participants will practice using the five steps in experiential learning exercise
  • Participants will identify strategies for incorporating this technique into harm reduction practices

Powerpoint: Problem Solving workshop

Worksheet: SODAS worksheet

“Irreverent: Harm Reduction Youth Work and Radical Ministry”

Presented by Menachem Cohen and Alli Baker

Eavesdrop on and participate in a discussion about HR in the lives of young people who are LGBTQ, street-based, organizers and activists, and current and/or former gang members. Panel will include youth from Broadway Youth Center, The Night Ministry/Youth Outreach Team, and The Re-Imagine Project. Topics will include: homelessness, sex work, spirituality and religion , safer drug use, gang banging, prison abolition, and transformative justice. Conversation will be moderated by Rabbi Menachem Cohen and Rev Alli Baker – two dynamic local clergy with a combined 35 years of working with young people.


Youth Emergency Transition and Interim Housing Resources

TGNC Youth Drop In and Outreach Programs

Worksheet: Youth Outreach Guiding Principles

Sex Work and Harm Reduction: Identifying Best Practices with Clients Involved in Sex Work 
-Presented by Theresa Anasti & Leah Levine
Sex workers and allies are crucial players in harm reduction. However, research shows that even among organizations that practice harm reduction, knowledge about how to best work with individuals in the sex trade are lacking. Sex workers are clients in all sorts of social service agencies. This presentation will train providers how to best work with sex workers.
Goals include:

  • Define sex work, and distinguish from sex trafficking
  • Elucidate current Illinois and Chicago laws around sex work
  • Define harm reduction within the context of sex work
  • Identify different pathways into sex work
  • Name harms associated with sex work
  • Explore examples of best practices in working with sex workers

Powerpoint: Harm Reduction and Sex Work Best Practices workshop


Photos from the 2016 Conference


Check out conferences from previous years:

Harm Reduction in the House 2011: Where We Are, Where We’re Going

Harm Reduction in the House 2012: It Takes a Village

Harm Reduction in the House 2013: It’s Not Just About Drugs

Harm Reduction in the House 2014: Across the Lifespan

Harm Reduction in the House 2015: Room at the Table