Educator Advocates Harm Reduction as Effective
A majority of adults age 18 through 20, and many persons age 17
and under, have at least occasionally consumed alcohol beverages.
Therefore, there needs to be more than a “Just Say No”
response, according to Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, who promotes harm reduction.
Dr. Rosenbaum earlier conducted federally funded research on a
variety of substance use and abuse issues. However, she shifted
to education after her daughter’s experience with the Drug
Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, which relies heavily
on fear tactics.
In 1998, Dr. Rosenbaum wrote a letter to her high school son, which
was printed in the San Francisco Chronicle. In it, she
urged him to “use common sense” and “most of all,
be safe.” The response she got from parents was “this
is exactly what I want to say to my child.” That led to the
development of her “Safety First “ educational program.
Currently, Dr. Rosenbaum is working with the California Parent
Teacher Association to get more information on harm reduction and
being safe to more parents. However, she can’t get “Safety
First” information into the public schools. The reason is
simple: Federal funding prohibits any alcohol education program
that doesn’t strictly promote total abstinence only.
Harm reduction refers to policies or programs that reduce the harm
that can occur as a result of alcohol abuse. In addition to promoting
abstinence, harm reduction typically involves teaching moderation,
promoting the use of designated drivers, improving highway safety,
reducing drunk driving, etc. Harm reduction promotes abstinence
from alcoholic beverages as the safest choice, but recognizes that
many individuals will not choose that option.
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Harm reduction for alcohol problems: Moving beyond the controlled
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- Santini, Jacob.(2004) Drug educator advocates “Safety First.”
Salt Lake Tribune, October 8, 2004.
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- Study: Harm Reduction Most effective in Curbing College Drinking.
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