International adoption validates the importance of harm reduction services, which emphasize the need for humility and compassion toward drug users, in treating substance use disorder.
KANSAS CITY, MO (February 21, 2023) — A Harm Reduction credential offered by the Missouri Credentialing Board and based on training co-created by Ken Vick, Benilde Hall’s executive director, has been rolled out on the international level. This is the first time a Missouri-based credential has been offered internationally, validating and emphasizing the need to incorporate harm reduction services in treating substance use disorder.
Ken Vick explains, “We developed the Harm Reduction Certification specifically for professionals in Missouri, nationwide and internationally. As its creators, we developed this 21-hour-long certification to break stigmas associated with drug abuse and addiction. Harm reduction is a critical component of trauma-informed care, giving services needed and meeting people where they are, rather than activating them. Meaning substance use is often a person’s coping mechanism for an underlying trauma, yet we treat the symptom (drug use) first, not the root cause of the using. Harm reduction flips treatment, addressing the causes first, such as depression or trauma, so the reason to abuse substances is gone. Essentially, we as professionals need to treat the reasons for substance abuse and stop shutting down addicts’ coping mechanisms.”
The Harm Reduction credential also is in line with Health and Human Services’ Overdose Prevention Strategy. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the U.S. is experiencing the most significant substance use and overdose epidemic it has ever faced, exacerbated by a worldwide pandemic, and driven by the proliferation of highly potent synthetic opioids containing primarily fentanyl and other analogues.
Harm reduction is critical to keeping people who use drugs alive and as healthy as possible. Harm reduction services and training for professionals providing those services are needed now more than ever to help decrease overdose fatalities, acute life-threatening infections related to unsterile drug injection and chronic diseases such as HIV/HCV.
Objectives of the Missouri Credentialing Board’s Harm Reduction Certification:
- Increase knowledge around Harm Reduction and how it can be used in recovery processes
- Apply skills within a harm reduction framework to current practice
- Feel comfortable having conversations around Harm Reduction with clients and the community
- Identify obstacles in applying Harm Reduction and develop strategies to overcome these obstacles
- Learn to engage people who are continuing to use substances into Harm Reduction recovery practices
- Build the foundation for clinical and non-clinical communication around Harm Reduction strategies
The first Harm Reduction Certification training runs February 21-23, 2023 at Healing House in Kansas City, Missouri. The next training is scheduled for April 3-5, 2023 in St. Louis, Missouri. Professionals seeking to earn their Harm Reduction Certification can learn more or register on the Missouri Credentialing Board’s website.
About Ken Vick, Benilde Hall Executive Director
Kenneth “Ken” Vick’s difficult childhood led to substance use at a young age. A freshman high school dropout, he had his first felony at age 18. February 12, 2001 is the day he walked into prison and the last one he used drugs. Ken completed R-DAP (Residential Drug Abuse Program), starting his recovery journey and work in the recovery field. Ken put into practice what he’d learned at Benilde Hall as a practicum student, counselor-in-training, and eventually, senior counselor. He left Benilde Hall to become director of treatment services, clinical supervisor and program manager at other renowned centers. In 2019, Ken returned to Benilde Hall as executive director. To learn more about Ken Vick or Benilde Hall, visit www.benildehall.org.