The role of harm reduction in Rogers’ mental health and addiction treatment

Posted on 09/14/23 07:21:am Harm reduction


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At Rogers, we recognize addiction is a complex issue and requires a multifaceted approach that utilizes a wide range of strategies. We firmly believe that every person battling addiction deserves compassion, understanding, and access to effective care.

One strategy that Rogers advocates for as part of our evidence-based approach, depending on the individual’s needs, is harm reduction.

What is harm reduction?

At its core, harm reduction is about saving lives and offering support to individuals who may not be ready or able to pursue complete abstinence immediately. It focuses on minimizing the negative consequences of addiction and engages individuals in a non-judgmental and empathetic way.

Harm reduction can be an integral part of a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. We value evidence-based practices that combine harm reduction with other interventions, such as counseling, therapy, support networks, and recovery medications. Our aim is to empower individuals to regain control over their lives and find a sustainable path to recovery.

“We need to ask the hard questions and address the root issues of addiction,” says Michelle Maloney, PhD, system executive clinical director of Addiction Services. “We can’t achieve our goals without keeping people in the recovery community alive. With the increased casualties, we need to adapt our approach to addiction treatment. Harm reduction is essential to address the immediate risks associated with substance use, protect individuals from life-threatening risks, and open doors to long-term recovery.”

“There’s strong evidence in peer-reviewed literature demonstrating the benefits of harm reduction strategies,” says Matt Boyer, MD, addiction psychiatrist. “Our evidence-based strategies treat the whole person.”

The need for dialogue around harm reduction

Critics of harm reduction often argue that success in recovery can only be defined as 100% abstinence. However, this belief has a major flaw.

“For many people struggling with substances, recovery begins with harm reduction, not abstinence,” explains Dr. Boyer. “We know everyone’s recovery is unique. We partner with patients to respect their recovery needs and priorities.”

Drs. Maloney and Boyer say the substance landscape has evolved significantly, with new substances and different challenges emerging. To respond effectively, our approach to addiction treatment must also evolve.

“We have access to evidence-based tools, like motivational interviewing (MI), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), contingency management, and recovery medications, which enhance our ability to help patients,” says Dr. Maloney. “The substances found in the community can kill with one use, which creates the need for other strategies such as fentanyl testing strip so individuals can make sure their substances are not unknowingly laced. Naloxone is needed to prevent death from opioid overdose, and efforts must continue to destigmatize addiction recovery.”

Help for mental health and addiction treatment at Rogers

Rogers Behavioral Health remains committed to promoting comprehensive, compassionate, and evidence-based approaches to treat substance use disorders. We provide multiple levels of care nationwide.

If you or someone you love needs help, call 800-767-4411 for a free, confidential screening.


Call 800-767-4411 or go to to request a free screening.