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Guiding Principals of Hartm Reduction

Guiding Principles

According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, the principles of HR are

  • Acknowledging that drug use is inevitable and choosing to reduce the harms of drug use instead of disregarding them.

  • Understanding that drug use is a complicated phenomenon and that some methods of drug use are safer than others.

  • Determining that quality of life is the criteria for successful approaches and rejecting the idea that total abstinence is the only way to address the issue of drug abuse.

  • Using non-judgmental services and providing resources to people who use drugs and their communities, without forcing them to participate.

  • Making sure that drug users have a say in the programs and policies of which they are a part.

  • Seeing drug users as the ones who have control over preventing the harms of drug use and empowering them to share information and support each other.

  • Accepting that factors such as poverty and racism can impact people’s ability to deal with the consequences of drug use.

  • Facing the realities and risks of drug abuse.

Harm reduction can be very effective. Studies have found that

  • Cities that have needle and syringe programs have an average annual decrease in HIV prevalence of 18.6%, compared with an annual average increase of 8.1% in cities without these programs. Between 2000 and 2009, these programs are estimated to have prevented more than 32,000 new HIV infections in Australia.

  • Methadone maintenance programs are tied to decreases in death rates.

  • Methadone maintenance is effective at reducing heroin use, crime, and risk behaviors for HIV.

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