Comprehensive Harm Reduction Training is Essential for the Peer Support Workforce

Recovery from substance use disorder can be a long and challenging journey, and it requires the dedication and hard work of not only the person in recovery but also those who provide support and care. Peer-delivered recovery services are an essential part of the recovery process for many individuals. It is of utmost importance that individuals working in this field are trained to provide the best possible care to those in need.

Harm reduction has been around for a long time, but it has only recently been embraced by the healthcare system in the United States.  Harm reduction approaches aim to reduce the negative consequences that come with substance use, which can include overdose, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C. The approach involves providing non-judgmental care and support, education, and access to resources that promote positive health outcomes. It recognizes that not everyone is ready or willing to stop using drugs or alcohol, but everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Harm reduction also addresses the need for social justice reform as our policies have systematically disenfranchised marginalized communities.

At Faces & Voices, our aim is to reduce harm as much as possible, which is why we’ve enlisted some of the nation’s leading experts to create a new comprehensive harm reduction training for the peer support workforce based on science and best practices. Peer workers should receive comprehensive training and we recognize that inadequate training can result in more harm.  Individuals working in peer-delivered recovery service settings such as recovery community organizations, recovery housing, and education-based settings provide the best possible care when they are trained thoroughly in harm reduction principles and practices.

Harm Reduction for the Peer Workforce is an 18-hour training that emphasizes harm reduction as an evidence-based approach that recognizes that substance use is a complex issue that cannot be addressed simply by abstaining from drugs or alcohol. It provides individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively reduce the harms associated with substance use. The training covers a wide range of topics, including the history of harm reduction and drug policy, harm reduction principles and practices, stigma and discrimination, risk assessment, overdose prevention and response, drug checking, safer sex practices, and more. During the training participants have opportunities to practice new skills through interactive activities such as role plays. Participants will also receive ongoing coaching and support to ensure they have the resources they need to provide the best possible care to those in need.

The training curriculum and materials originated from Recovery Coaching A Harm Reduction Pathway© and has been adapted with permission and assistance from its co-authors and owners, Jim Wuelfing and Dean Lemire/ The Lemire Group LLC. Chad Sabora, Senior Advisor at Faces & Voices and one of the country’s most well-known experts in harm reduction, collaborated with the curriculum’s authors and other experts who have extensive experience in peer recovery coaching to update and expand this training program. This initiative was made possible through our technical assistance provider role with the National Harm Reduction Technical Assistance Center.  The Centers for Disease Control established and expanded the NHRTAC in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to ensure comprehensive support of the integration of harm reduction strategies and principles across diverse community settings.

By providing the peer support workforce with a comprehensive harm reduction training, we can improve the quality of care provided to those in need and promote a safer and healthier society. Please contact the National Recovery Institute at Faces & Voices of Recovery for more information:

Faces & Voices of Recovery is a national advocacy and education organization that is dedicated to promoting a recovery-oriented system of care for individuals with substance use disorder. See what we’re up to and how you can get involved at