Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction might be a good fit for you if you’ve had some negative consequences from using, want to take a look at how using fits into your life, but aren’t sure you’re ready to quit, or even if you need to. This therapy and education group offers you the opportunity to reflect on your relationship and experiences with alcohol and drugs in a non-judgmental space, and with the support and guidance of a therapist.

Harm Reduction focuses on goal setting to reduce or change self-harming behaviors, reduce the harmful or negative consequences of those behaviors to self and others, and increase insights about underlying needs and drivers of behavior.

The program is not abstinence-based and is instead guided by the principles of Harm Reduction, a set of practical ideas and interventions for substance users. Neither promoting nor minimizing substance use and resulting risk, Harm Reduction accepts as fact that people engage in harmful or risky behaviors and encourages non-judgment, curiosity, and information sharing to help people make changes on their terms. Read more about Harm Reduction here.

For many people, choosing abstinence or complete sobriety is the best option for interrupting substance use or reducing harm. For other people, abstinence may not be their goal; perhaps they want to quit using one drug that’s causing them problems, but they still want to drink. For still other people, abstinence may seem impossible or unrealistic because of their life circumstances or social circle, their neighborhood, or the need to fit in, get by, and survive.

Harm Reduction offers the invitation to really look at your using, drinking or other behaviors, to be curious and honest about the context and impact of these behaviors, and to experiment with making changes.

There are two ways to learn more about the program and begin the screening process:

  1. Current medical patients can speak directly with their medical provider about connecting to services. Just let your provider know that you would like to speak with a Behavioral Health Specialist for further information.
  2. Non-patients of the health center can get information about services and schedule a screening by calling Jennifer Loken, Manager of Substance Use Treatment Services, at 202.797.4453.

Format: evening, non-abstinence-based, mostly groups

Location: Harm Reduction groups are provided at Whitman-Walker at 1525 and Max Robinson Center. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, ALL groups are currently being provided virtually. Individual therapy has the option for virtual or in-person daytime sessions.

Need Support Now?

  • National Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
  • The Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386 (for LGBTQ+ youth)
  • Crisis Text Line: text  “GO” to 741741
  • DC Mental Health Access Line: 1-888-793-4357
  • In crisis? Click here for resources.