The Learning Catalog

Do I Need to be an Addictions Expert? Engaging and Supporting People Who Use Drugs.



Providers do not have to be experts in addictions research and treatment to work with and support people who use drugs. Through this webinar, we will present concrete tools participants can use to talk to someone about their drug use. We will offer practical and proven-effective strategies to communicate with people who use drugs in order to promote a connection to care. We also will discuss the role of stigma in preventing individuals access to care for substance use problems and give an overview of the harm reduction approach.

About The Instructors:

Joe Pereira is a licensed clinical social worker and addictions specialist who has been practicing for over 30 years.  Joe was a co-founder of Outlook Associates of New England, a practice started to assist persons with anger control problems. He is currently in private practice in Arlington, MA offering individual and group therapy as well as training and consultation with a focus on anger management to adults and adolescents.  Joe has given numerous trainings locally as well as nationally and internationally on the treatment of anger management problems as well as workplace conflict, chemical addictions, and stress management. Joe has been a lecturer at the Boston University Graduate School of Social Work since 2013 and has taught the school’s course on addiction.

Tanagra Melgarejo was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is the proud daughter of Mexican and Cuban immigrants and is the National Learning and Engagement Strategist for National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC). Through her position at NHRC she leads the organization’s capacity building and technical assistance efforts across the United States and its territories. Tanagra holds an MSW from the University of Puerto Rico and is certified as both an abortion and death doula as well as grief counselor.



Participants will learn to:

  • Identify at least two ways stigma impacts on access and engagement in health care services for individuals who use drugs.
  • Name at least two concrete action steps to promote compassionate and non-judgmental interactions with people who use drugs.
  • Identify at least two aspects of a harm reduction approach to working with individuals who may use substances.
  • List at least two questions to ask when looking to engage someone about their substance use.


Course Outline

Program Agenda:

1:00-1:10pm Introduction, Review of Agenda
1:10-1:30pm Harm Reduction Approach
1:30- 1:55pm What is Stigma, Key Functions of Stigma
1:55-2:00pm BREAK
2:00-2:20pm Why Do People Use Drugs, Why Don’t People Stop Using Drugs, Drug, Set, Setting Model
2:15-2:30pm How to Take a Drug History/Points to Consider
2:30-2:45pm Creating Safety
2:45pm-3:00pm Q&A and Wrap



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