Highlights from the 11th Annual National Harm Reduction Conference

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It is always incredible being among so many like minded people from all walks of life at the biennial National Harm Reduction Conference. This past November’s event had us on the bay in San Diego, home town of Tom Horvath, one of the founders of SMART Recovery meetings, who hosted an intimate dinner one evening, in which I was humbled to be sitting with so many treatment professionals whose work I studied in graduate school not so long ago.  I was almost in tears while Monique Tula, the new executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, gave an emotional and moving introduction, with three generations of her own family on stage.

Among the countless sessions, Jeannie Little of The Center for Harm Reduction Therapy in San Francisco, our own Andrew Tatarsky, Inez Feria of NoBox in the Philippines, and Michael Pond, Psychotherapist in Vancouver, held a terrific discussion on the globalization of harm reduction psychotherapy. This is something we are passionate about as we continue to conduct trainings in different countries, working to help provide access to treatment for people who may continue to struggle with drug or alcohol use around the world.

I learned numerous techniques in a presentation on harm reduction based group therapy led by Cynthia Hoffman, who has a private practice in the Bay Area. Since I’ll attend most anything to do with photography and film, I listened to a significant and moving narrative by Matt Curtis of VOCAL and Nigel Brunsdon of HIT, as they took us on a tour of photography’s relevance and depiction of the history of the harm reduction and drug policy reform movements.

I bonded with old friends and new at the usual dance parties, fashion shows and spoken word performances.  This event to me, is a reunion of friends and a place of learning, more than anything else.  We depart from these gatherings inspired for months to come, and we look forward to seeing friends and colleagues in 2017 at the Harm Reduction International Conferencein Montreal and the Drug Policy Reform Conference in Atlanta!

Eddie Einbinder, LMSW
Harm Reduction Therapist
The Center for Optimal Living


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