Harm Reduction Scholars Program
Harm reduction services, especially when integrated with access to clinical addiction treatment programs, can prevent death and improve care for people living with opioid use disorder (OUD).
In June of 2021, RIZE announced the creation of the Harm Reduction Training (HaRT) Scholars program. This specialized internship program – the first of its kind in the country – will develop a pipeline of social workers who are trained in harm reduction.
The two-year grant program for Master of Social Work degree students at Boston College, Bridgewater State University, and Simmons University will support paid internships and specialized training for a total of 32 HaRT Scholars at these schools. The model has the potential to be scaled and replicated nationally.
Harm reduction is an approach that focuses on reducing the negative consequences of drug use and supporting individuals in embracing positive change in their lives and health. The interventions can include a range of services such as syringe exchange, overdose education, naloxone distribution, and drug checking. Harm reduction itself should not be seen as a way to end opioid use, but rather as a survival plan that keeps people alive and safe until they decide to move onto a clinical treatment phase, and then hopefully, onto full recovery.
The HaRT Scholars program will increase the clinical presence at harm reduction organizations to improve linkages to behavioral health and medical treatment. To increase racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse social workers in the field of harm reduction, each participating university will specifically promote internships to Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students.