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Harm Reduction Principles

Harm Reduction is a public health policy that helps fight the destruction of addiction. More specifically, harm reduction is a set of strategies that can reduce the negative effects of drugs. This can be on a personal level or a societal level. Many of the liberal harm reduction techniques originated in Europe. But there has been a recent push to bring these techniques to America.

Some of the more popular harm reduction techniques are needle exchange programs, maintenance therapy, and safe injection sites. Needle exchange programs allow drug users to trade in dirty needles for clean needles. This can help counteract diseases that spread through sharing needles. Maintenance therapy uses prescription drugs to help maintain opioid users so they can get back into a normal life. Safe injection facilities allow drug users to come to their facilities and shoot up drugs with clean needles and in the presence of medical staff.

While these harm reduction techniques might sound ridiculous. They follow a relatively rational theory of thought that harm reduction techniques follow. These principles and techniques define what a successful harm reduction technique is and isn’t.

Pragmatism: Drug use should be looked at pragmatically. There is no way to completely eliminate drug use from a society. Though drugs aren’t inherently bad, some benefits are observed by the user. These benefits should be accounted for when understanding drug use. Therefore, a community should look to find a feasible and pragmatic approach when trying to rule on drugs.

Humanistic values: No moralistic judgment should be made against drug users. They are people too. Despite that, this drug use shouldn’t be condoned. Though, their dignity should be respected.

Focus on harms: There are different harms that relate to drug use and abuse. There is health, social, and economic harm, but also factors that affect the individual, the community, and society. Harm reduction techniques should focus on decreasing negative consequences as opposed to eradicating drug use.

Balancing costs and benefits: Priority issues should be the focus of harm reduction practices. There should be a process to identify, measure, and assess drug-related problems. Balancing costs and benefits shouldn’t only be done on an individual scale, but also in society as well.

Priority on immediate goals: The most pressing needs should be focused first. This is how drug users can be motivated.