Guest Blog: Harm Reduction

Oh! Hey there. Sorry, you don’t know me. My name is Jill, and Dustin has invited me to write a guest post on his blog. Just assume I am the girl version of Dustin, only with more chest hair. We’ve shared similar experiences when it comes to relationships, dating, work and life, which is why we’re both the first to shout at each other “YOU’RE WRONG, GET OVER YOURSELF”, then crack a beer and laugh.

So why have I taken time out of my day to write this blog post? Mainly it's because I'm an ego-maniac, but more specifically it’s because currently I’m building a harm reduction organization in my spare time based on one simple sentiment:

YOU’RE AN ADULT, MAKE YOUR OWN CHOICES, ASSHOLE

“But Jill, you already work two jobs, you're a Union Shop Steward, play two rec sports and volunteer in the community. How do you have time for this shit?” says my sock puppet that I scream my feelings into.  

I do it because I care about a lot of things, genuinely love and enjoy people, and I am clinically insane. (got the papers to prove it!)

And the socket puppet . . .

And the socket puppet . . .

Back to the organization I’m helping build: Indigo Harm Reduction. Instead of continuing to glad hand myself (more so than I already have LOLZ), let me tell you what Indigo Harm Reduction is and why harm reduction is not only important as a service, but also as a life philosophy.

WHAT IS HARM REDUCTION?

Harm Reduction is a range of public health policies designed to lessen the negative social and/or physical consequences associated with various human behaviors, both legal and illegal. Harm reduction policies are used to manage behaviors such as recreational drug use and sexual activity in numerous settings that range from services through to geographical regions
— Stolen from Wikipedia... (Fuck, I guess blogs write themselves, eh Dustin?)

Specifically, harm reduction is a term used solely in the medical community and let me be clear; It is NOT the advocacy or encouragement of drug and alcohol use. It’s scientifically based and recognized as a scope of practice for nurses in the province of Alberta.

Respectively, Indigo Harm Reduction provides a service to nightclubs and festivals around the Edmonton area. We provide public information on drugs, sex, and alcohol (without judgement) to proactively address any risky behaviours. Reactively, Indigo has a team of health professionals that can respond to emergency situations, 

For example: while working an EDM show at Envy Nightclub, a 20 year-old male overdosed on what we believe to be GHB. CPR was administered by the team, his life was saved, and so was the reputation of the club. Despite the owner’s best efforts to keep a clean, drug free and safe environment through security measures, he recognized that he cannot control what people do before they come to a show. People are adults and make their own choices. Envy was doing their due diligence by having our service there and by hiring us they saved the life of a 20 year old man.

Now, I could go on about the great work Indigo does, and how progressive Envy nightclub is, but today I would rather talk about how harm reduction can be applied to other areas of life and how you, the adult, can make better choices/decisions.

LISTEN

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This is number one, and my absolute favourite. To listen is to learn and everyone you know has something to teach.

Did they say a shitty thing? Ask yourself why you were offended (or brush it off, fuck them). Did they say something you didn’t understand? Ask more questions. Did they say something incorrect? I like to gently correct, or yell “ASSHOLE” really loud. Depends what mood I’m in and who I’m saying it to.

Seek first to understand then to be understood and try not to let others dictate your emotions. This skill can be applied to every aspect of your life. It’ll make you a better partner and friend, more capable at your job and help you understand the world just a little bit better. Don’t wanna?

FINE, BE A JERK.

 

SUPPORT

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Ok, sometimes I take this to an unhealthy level. I thoroughly enjoy supporting people and applauding their successes (whether they’ve asked me to or not). This often works against me and has for years. People don’t trust that I don’t have some weird underlying motive and I get misunderstood a lot and it doesn’t help that I talk like a trucker. I care about people so much, and in a big picture way that I let it destroy my mind not once, but twice (again, this is why I have a sock puppet).

There needs to be a limit to how many people and endeavours you can support and cheer on, choose wisely. Also, I make an effort to discuss opinions and ideas rather than people, and will only address someone face to face if there is an issue. Or, at least I try to.

From a pragmatic standpoint, you should NEVER put ANYTHING in writing you wouldn’t want others to see. It’ll haunt you, believe me, I know, tried and tested and full of regrets. Gossip is ingrained in our DNA and promotes social bonding, so, I have to PRACTICE not talking about other people. No matter how dumb and useless they are (damn, there I go again insulting people in writing again).

 

FIND YOUR VALUES

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Mine change and refine as time goes on. Everyone's do, but they're still important to think about.

Don’t know what your values are or you've never thought about it?

Well fuck, man, let me help:

Google a list of values. Pick a few. There ya go, champ. 

Take a DND alignment test. Shout out to my nerd friends - I got true neutral. 

Take the Myer-Briggs. I’m E. Just E. The rest of the letters are within a pube hair of each other.

Now, go make your friends do it too and then argue over it. Some people find their values and morality through religion, others with Marvel super heroes. Values and ethics are always up for discussion and for me, I don’t like it being dictated to me what they should be. I have my own, yours may be different. However, I find I’m most attracted (platonically or otherwise) to those that I can share common values with.

Continual practice and improvement required.

 

LEARN SOMETHING

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I am scientifically literate, musically literate, body language literate, mathematically literate, reading and writing literate (which you may disagree with after reading this blog entry) and speak half-assed french (said every Canadian ever). Language isn’t exclusive to ethnicity and there are many ways to communicate. Consider your audience and the goal of the communication in the moment.

I can talk to anyone just about anything. This often makes me look smarter than I actually am. Other times I out myself for how insensitive or ignorant I can be; I said “literate” and not “proficient”. After all, I’m a Jill of all trades and master of none.

The point is we should strive to be lifelong learners and there’s so many ways to learn things these days! Apps! Books! Podcasts! Oh my!

 

DON’T IGNORE YOUR BODY

Hahaha, okay, so I suck at this. I like candy, pub food, smoking and drinking. BUT I also like dancing, swimming, baseball, singing, playing guitar and a bunch of other hobbies that I half-ass.

I’m kind of like the Vince Vaughn of taking care of my body.

I’m kind of like the Vince Vaughn of taking care of my body.

But I think it goes without saying - taking care of your body is near the top of this list. And I don't just mean physical exercise.

Practice safe (contraception) and consensual sex (fuck sakes, don’t make me explain this). And for the love of god, if you’re going to engage in recreational drugs make sure you know where they came from, you know the dose, and you have a backup plan if something goes wrong. Do you really want me to get into what can go wrong?? (Hi to any of my younger cousins. nieces and nephews that may be reading this). I’ve worked the bar for a lonnnnnnnng time and there is just some stuff I can’t unsee.

 

FUCK IT MODE

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It’s OK to stop caring for a bit if it’s too much for you. This has become a mantra for me.

It’s impossible to care about everything all the time. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone. Some people know me as the best server in town, others would probably spit in my face if they had the chance. Actually, this may be true of people that know me on a personal level too. Sometimes my skin is thick, sometimes it’s wafer thin and you can see all the soft wobbly stuff beneath. But that's 100% OK.

It's not a breakdown, it's simply a break from giving a fuck, and we all need it.

 

All of these Harm Reduction principles can be applied to your life and how you live it. To recap: 

  • Listen to people.
  • Support others when you can.
  • Understand your Values and, most importantly, apply them to your life.
  • Learn and constantly educate yourself so you can actually be a good listener and supporter.
  • Don't ignore your body. Be safe and healthy.
  • And finally - allow yourself some time to simply not give a flying fuck.

Looks like we done here. K, bye thx.


For more information on Indigo Harm Reduction Services, visit their Facebook page HERE.