Harm reduction for people who use crack: a best practice from Brazil

One of the special services ‘Programa Atitude’ in Recife, Brazil has is a temporary house for women and female transgender people who use drugs. 

For more than 90% of clients, crack cocaine is their primary drug of choice. The people in the programme are threatened by violence and/or are mothers (to be). Kids up to 2 years can live with their mothers in this house. The programme team works on strengthening self-care, mother-child bond, family links and autonomy. While in the project, many start doing informal jobs – cleaning, selling food and drinks – to get some money. 

A lawyer can help those who want to get back their kids who were taken away from them due to (the mothers) crack use. Many users build up more stable lives, get rid of (or decrease) abusive relationships and either reduce, stop or control their crack use. Some of them get into social housing and receive help with finances and reintegration. Importantly, the client chooses the house and neighbourhood, ensuring she can remove herself from previous violence and threats or strengthen current bonds. Both safe houses and social rent are also available for men who use drugs (in mixed men/women units). 

‘Programa Atitude’ is part of Mainline’s study into best practices of harm reduction for stimulant drug users

Lead researcher Rafaela de Quadros Rigoni – a Brazilian national herself – was in Recife to study this project for people who use crack cocaine.

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