Course Description

The purpose of this course is to convey a working understanding of harm reduction (HR) as it is applied to substance use disorder.

Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of evidence-based and evidence-informed strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence to meet drug users “where they're at" and addressing conditions of use along with the use itself.

In this course you will learn the benefits of harm reduction and how strategies can be applied to reduce harm and further complications from drug use and reduce the harm and risks to the community. The course will dispel some common myths of harm reduction and illustrate where it fits within the continuum of substance use (SUD) treatment and recovery. Participants will gain an understanding of harm reduction principles and services and will be able to define what it means to “practice” harm reduction.

Practicing harm reduction is not simply the act of doing harm reduction like things. It’s not simply securing a grant and funding and distributing naloxone (the overdose reversal drug) within a community. It is to apply Harm Reduction Principles and Philosophies to strategies and interventions. Then and only then is one practicing harm reduction.

This course is for individuals, healthcare professionals, and groups and organizations who are working to prevent and reduce the effects of substance use disorder and the opioid public health crisis. This includes, but not limited to:

Businesses, coalition and community members, correctional facilities, educators, faith groups, government, health care professionals, parents and caregivers, pharmacies, school nurses, senior living facilities, sober living communities, treatment & recovery centers, etc.

Course Reviewers

Emma Roberts, Senior Director of National Capacity Building, National Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC). 

Originally from the UK, Emma Roberts started her career in community development work in 1990. She became involved in Harm Reduction in the mid 90's when the National Health Service funded a syringe exchange in a corner office of the community center she worked at. Since then Emma has gone on to manage and lead various community-based programs. She landed in New York in 2008 where she has coordinated a syringe exchange program and mobile health program providing medical and dental services to vulnerable street-based and un-housed populations in the city operating across South Bronx, Harlem, and parts of Brooklyn. 

Emma also worked for the Harm Reduction Coalition as a training consultant since 2009 and in 2014 joined the team fulltime. Her focus is to lead and manage the provision of technical assistance and support to programs promoting syringe access, drug user health, Hepatitis C services, and overdose prevention. When not at work Emma enjoys lots of dancing including organizing community events with a local dance collective Sankofa Soul, practicing yoga and eating.  

For more than 25 years, HRC has worked with communities to create, sustain, and expand evidence-based harm reduction programs and policies,

Mary J. Didelot, PhD, LMHC, LCAC, NBCCH, BCPC, BC PTSD Clinician, Associate Professor of Education, School of Education and Counseling, Purdue University Northwest.

Faculty, Staff and Reviewer Disclosure Statement

All faculty, staff and reviewers involved in the planning, review or presentation of continuing education activities provided by Purdue University College of Pharmacy are required to disclose to the audience any relevant commercial financial affiliations related to the content of the presentation or enduring material. All planning committee members, writers, staff and reviewers of Overdose Lifeline and Purdue University have no relationships to disclose.

What You Will Learn

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Define harm reduction as it is used in engaging people who use drugs into services and support.

  • List a minimum of four benefits of harm reduction for the individual and/or community.

  • Discuss the history of harm reduction and where it fits today in the continuum of SUD treatment and recovery.

  • Identify the principles and philosophy of harm reduction and examples of harm reduction tools and services.

  • Recognize an effective Harm Reduction practice in contrast to a practice which does not apply harm reduction principles to the services / tools.

Course CE Credits and Certificate Program

In partnership with Purdue University College of Pharmacy, Office of Continuing Education, and funding from the Employers Forum of Indiana and the Amerisource Bergen Foundation, Overdose Lifeline has developed layperson and clinician CE courses and Certificate Program on Addiction / Substance Use Disorder with an Opioid Specialization.

The course and the certificate program are structured to support the educational needs of healthcare professionals, students, and the layperson. An individual may pursue individual course CE credits or complete the entire Certificate Program (20 credits). 

CE Accreditation Statement:

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of Overdose Lifeline, Inc. and Purdue University College of Pharmacy. Purdue University, an equal access/equal opportunity institution, is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation: Purdue University College of Pharmacy designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 3.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Release Date:  09/30/2020

Expiration Date:  12/06/2023 

CE Credit Course Requirements

  • 100% course completion

  • 80% (minimum) passing grade on the final exam

  • Complete the course ending survey

How to Receive CE Credit(s)

During course registration you will be prompted to select your CE Credit area. If you are pursuing physician CE credit, you should select "Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)"

Your Certificate of CE credit(s) will be referenced on-screen at the end of the course and your certificate credentials will be delivered to the email address associated with this course's registration.

If you need assistance or have any questions, please contact

Additional Course Notes

  • There are no prerequisites for this course. We recommend you consider “The Brain and the Disease of Addiction (BDA) — ACCME 2.0 CE Credits” ($30.00) and "Guide to SUD Treatment and Recovery — 3.0 ACCME CE Credits" ($45.00) online courses.

  • This course provides 3.0 ACCME CE Credits - delivered upon 100% course completion, achievement of 80% (minimum) passing grade on the final exam, and completing the course ending survey.

  • The course may be accessed from a computer, tablet or mobile device. Internet access is required as are speakers for audio.

    The following web browsers are supported: Desktop - Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Edge. Note the course platform does not support Internet Explorer. Mobile - iOS Safari: 11 and up, Chrome, Samsung Internet.

  • The course will remain available in your account for six months - allowing you to complete the course at your own pace and return to the course later for review of key concepts.