Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction Counseling

Harm reduction is a philosophy that states abstinence is not the only option to treat harmful life choices. This practice does not promote harmful behaviors but acknowledges the health risks of substance use disorders and focuses on evidence that can help reduce danger to people who choose to engage in certain activities. Blue Sky harm reduction counseling was established to help those in need be aware of resources that can help prevent overdose deaths.

Harm Reduction Services

Blue Sky Counseling aims to help individuals and communities by using evidence-based strategies to reduce the risk of dying from an overdose. Our focus is on supporting people who use drugs, as well as individuals who care for and love people using drugs, with the services and resources to mitigate the risks of overdose.

Overdose Prevention

Every day 190 people die as a result of an overdose. Meaning that there are over 70,000 preventable deaths per year. Synthetic opioids are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids are a class of drugs including medication such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. These opioids are often prescribed to treat pain.

How to recognize an overdose

Recognizing an opioid overdose can be challenging. If you spot the following signs, call 911 or seek medical care for the individual immediately. Whatever you do, don’t leave the person alone. Signs of an opioid overdose include:

  • Constricted, small pupils
  • Loss of consciousness or falling asleep
  • Shallow, slow breathing
  • Gurgling or choking sounds
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin

Overdose deaths can also be prevented with the help of harm reduction programs and services.

Evidence-Based Strategies For Preventing Opioid Overdose

Naloxone Distribution

This non-addictive, life-saving drug, Naloxone, can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and restore natural respiration if it is issued in time. Naloxone can be administered through nose spray or by injection. Equipping individuals who are most likely to encounter or witness a drug overdose with Naloxone can help save a life in an emergency situation.

As a harm reduction counselor, I prioritize naloxone distribution as a critical tool in preventing opioid overdose fatalities. Through community partnerships, education, and accessible distribution channels, we empower individuals to carry naloxone, saving lives and reducing the harm associated with opioid use. Naloxone distribution is a vital component of our harm reduction efforts.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)

FDA-approved medications are the backbone of this treatment option. When coupled with counseling and other support services, MAT and MOUD allows people who are addicted to opiates the opportunity to regain a normal state of mind without experiencing the highs and lows of opioid withdrawal.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) are evidence-based approaches that combine medication, such as buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone, with counseling and support to address opioid addiction.

MAT and MOUD are effective in reducing cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and overdose risk while promoting recovery, improved health, and better quality of life. As a harm reduction counselor, I advocate for these medications as a critical component of comprehensive care for individuals with opioid use disorder.

Syringe Services Programs (SSPs)

SSPs, or syringe services programs, help provide access to and disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment, vaccination, testing, and linkage to infectious disease care. This program can also serve as a critical step toward receiving mental health and substance abuse counseling.

SSPs reduce the spread of bloodborne infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C, promote safer injection practices, and connect individuals to essential healthcare services and support, improving overall health outcomes and reducing harm associated with drug use.

As a harm reduction counselor, I actively support and advocate for the implementation of SSPs to protect the health and well-being of individuals who inject drugs and their communities.

Overdose Prevention

Every day 190 people die as a result of an overdose. Meaning that there are over 70,000 preventable deaths per year. Synthetic opioids are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids are a class of drugs including medication such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. These opioids are often prescribed to treat pain, however, are among the most commonly abused drugs.

How to Recognize an Overdose

Recognizing an opioid overdose can be challenging. If you spot the following signs, call 911 or seek medical care for the individual immediately. Whatever you do, don’t leave the person alone. Signs of an opioid overdose include:

  • Constricted, small pupils
  • Loss of consciousness or falling asleep
  • Shallow, slow breathing
  • Gurgling or choking sounds
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin

Overdose deaths can also be prevented with the help of harm reduction programs and services.

Blue Sky Harm Reduction Approach

Blue Sky Counseling understands and recognizes the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, and other social inequalities. Many of these factors affect both people’s vulnerability and capacity for dealing with drug-related harm and other disorders.

Harm reduction was originally and most frequently associated with alcohol and drug abuse (Substance Abuse). However, harm reduction treatment programs are increasingly being applied to numerous other behavioral disorders including bipolar disorder and depression as well as people going through the stages of grief.

As a licensed mental health professional in Omaha, NE, I work with clients to reduce the harms and harmful effects of illicit drug use. My philosophy starts by meeting people where they are in their journey. I use a harm reduction therapy approach that is empathetic, understanding, and non-judgmental to best serve my clients.

Get Help & Start Your Journey Today

Together we will use evidence-based methods and explore creative ways to reduce negative consequences.

Explore Principles of Harm Reduction