Meeting people where they are

An important element of peer support is to offer options and realistic alternatives, including a range of different support interventions intended to meet people where they are at, at any stage they may be at. This might be a specific  question or dilemma;  a technical issue (e.g. ‘How can I check the quality of my drug?’);   or a request for support on another, more reflective and personal level. (e.g. ‘Should I continue with injecting?’ ‘What can I do for my peers?).

Good peer support provides a range of alternatives for people, from supporting smaller improvements (a change in behaviour, a voluntary contribution to a service) to much more complicated steps (like becoming active in a self-organised group).



Each alternative might lead to a valuable improvement of a person’s situation.  Small steps forward should be encouraged and aiming for second-best options (or even third- or fourth-best options) may sometimes lead to considerable improvement in a person’s life.

The concept of ‘acceptance’ is a basic notion regarding AIDS prevention methods for reaching drug users effectively.  The key of the so-called acceptance model is recognition of the drug user as a human being with the same rights as other human beings.  That means, for instance, that s/he has the right to choose the way s/he wants to live and if and how s/he wants assistance.  One consequence of this idea is to offer assistance without formulating prerequisites such as stopping drug use.  Offering ‘low threshold’ health services increases the possibility of reaching drug users effectively.