Methamphetamine in Washington State

On Friday, June 28th, The University of Washington Alchohol and Drug Abuse Institute hosted a 1-day symposium on Methamphetamine in Washington StateThe purpose of this event was to present current information on the scope and impact of meth use, with a goal to address gaps in our understanding and strategies for dealing with this large and growing challenge in Washington State.

Among other leaders in behavioral health, health care, social services, policy makers, and researchers, were two SCS staff, Harm Reduction Program Assistant Peter Cleary, and SCS Medical Director Dr. Paul Grekin.

During Peter Cleary’s presentation and Q & A, he discussed SCS’s Project NEON and how our peers provide harm reduction services to the community (read more about NEON here!) and shared information with the attendees based on his own lived experiences. Peter also conducted interviews with over twenty community members who are in different stages of their meth use, to ensure their voices and experiences are brought to the table in these discussions. Peter interviewed a range of individuals on the spectrum of harm reduction, from someone who has over 30 years of sobriety, to another who has a daily injection habit.

Peter Talks Harm Reduction

  • What are some essential harm reduction messages for people who use meth?

Harm reduction need not require big sweeping changes in one’s behavior. Any step that allows you to be healthier is a step in the right direction. Harm reduction goes beyond that moment that you use, getting to doctor’s appointments on time, eating and drinking fluids often, paying your rent on time and many other behaviors lead to a healthier you. If you slip on a behavior, don’t give up. Next time is also a chance to step in the right direction.

  • How can harm reduction services better integrate with behavioral health and other services and vice versa?

Harm reduction services need to be accepted without judgment, strongly encouraged, fully supported and ubiquitous. If a person who uses drugs has to go searching for harm reduction support or has said support but has to go searching for behavioral health or other services they often won’t.

Interested in learning more about Project NEON, collaborating, or getting your own harm reduction unicorn? Email them at neon@seattlecounseling.org.

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