‘It’s really about wellbeing’: A Canadian investigation of harm reduction as a bridge between mental health and addiction recovery
Recovery is a key concept driving system transformation in both the addiction and mental health sectors, with shared roots in advocacy and a shared focus on hope in the face of stigma, self-determination and meaningful lives. Nevertheless, while mental health recovery is possible even with on-going symptoms, addiction recovery generally starts with or leads to abstinence. This disconnection undermines coherence at the policy level and exacerbates fragmentation between services and supports in the mental health and addiction sectors in Canada and internationally. At the same time, harm reduction, which does not require abstinence, has been gaining ground in the Canadian addiction sector. This qualitative policy study explores the potential for harm reduction to bridge the gap between mental health recovery and addiction recovery in the Canadian context, drawing on diverse experiences from the mental health and addiction sectors. The findings could be adapted internationally to address similar policy challenges.