Workforce Development Hacks for SSPs

Volunteer Training

Volunteers, even those with lived experience using drugs, always need training. Volunteer training in harm reduction varies from very minimal (less than 5 hours) to very long (120 hours) and there are many ways to provide training at an SSP. The bare-bones minimum basics that every SSP must train all staff on includes:

  • Universal Precautions and site safety
  • De-escalation
  • Program policies and procedures
  • Participant privacy and confidentiality

It should be emphasized that this is the very minimum that SSP personnel should have. Just doing the bare minimum is usually inadequate. Most people, even those with lived experience, will need further training in:

  • Harm Reduction
  • Outreach
  • Models of Behavior Change
  • Cultural Competency for SSP Participants
  • Safer Drug Use
  • Overdose Prevention and Response
  • Safer Sex Work
  • Trauma
    And more…

Training can be achieved in a variety of ways including relying on national or regional technical assistance providers, hiring outside trainers, or creating and providing training “in-house”.

More Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
Suggest a Resource


The hacks on this site are shared with you under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence. This allows you (with attribution) to adapt content for your own use, although we do ask you to then also allow others to have equal access to anything you develop. More details of this licence can be found on the Creative Commons website.


We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.

Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation. 

Harm Reduction Hacks site design and implimentation by Nigel Brunsdon

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