So, What Is Harm Reduction

Although there is no universally accepted definition of harm reduction, the term is used when referring to policies, programs and practices that try to minimize negative health, social, and legal consequences related to drug use, drug policies, or drug laws. In Olivia Pennelle’s Article Four Advocates on How Harm Reduction Can Change the Trajectory of the Opioid Crisis for, she states, “The philosophy of harm reduction accepts that drug use is complex and multifaceted, and that it involves a range of behaviors from frequent use to total abstinence. It acknowledges that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others. Harm reduction includes strategies such as safer use, managed use, needle exchanges, supervised injection sites, treatment instead of jail, and abstinence. It advocates for meeting the individual where they are and addressing their reasons for using and the conditions surrounding their drug use.” 

According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, Harm reduction is a set of simple strategies that are aimed at reducing negative impacts of drug use. For example, Narcan, Fentanyl testing strips, and sterile needles are just a few examples of ways to reduce harm and save lives. 

As Devin Reaves MSW, puts it, “What people don’t know about harm reduction is that individuals in programs of harm reduction are five times more likely to enter treatment—it is a pathway of recovery.”

To read more about Harm Reduction check out Olivia Pennelle’s full article at

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