Harm Reduction and Safer Use


Harm Reduction aims to reduce risk. The term became associated with UK drug policy when in 1984, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) stated in a report on prevention that "The increasing incidence of drug [misuse] casts doubt on the adequacy of existing measures, making it more important than ever to examine their effectiveness and consider ways to improve them or develop better ones". 

The report went on to stress the importance of interventions to both reduce the harm associated with drug use and to prevent more serious problems from arising.

By 1987, more serious problems were arising and harm reduction became the mail pillar of a population-based public health response to HIV. Today harm reduction programmes have been adopted in over half of the 158 countries where people inject drugs. Harm reduction and safer use, including needle and syringe programmes and substitution treatment, have helped those people and countries avoid some of the risks and harm associated with drug use.

Harm reduction promotes health improvement, challenges inequality and discrimination, promotes human rights and wellbeing, reduces drug related risk and deaths, increases individual and family stability, improves community safety and increases options for recovery.

Harm Reduction and Safer Use: Sensible, Pragmatic and Effective Public Health and Social Policy