Harm Reduction Defined
"Harm reduction encompasses interventions, programmes and policies that seek to reduce the health, social and economic harms of drug use to individuals, communities and societies. A core principle of harm reduction is the development of pragmatic responses to dealing with drug use through a hierarchy of intervention goals that place primary emphasis on reducing the health-related harms of continued drug use (Des Jarlais, 1995; Lenton and Single, 2004). Harm reduction approaches neither exclude nor presume a treatment goal of abstinence, and this means that abstinence-oriented interventions can also fall within the hierarchy of harm reduction goals. We therefore envisage harm reduction as a ‘combination intervention’, made up of a package of interventions tailored to local setting and need that give primary emphasis to reducing the harms of drug use. In relation to reducing the harms of injecting drug use, for example, this combination of interventions may draw upon needle and syringe programmes (NSPs), opioid substitution treatment (OST), counselling services, the provision of drug consumption rooms (DCRs), peer education and outreach, and the promotion of public policies conducive to protecting the health of populations at risk (WHO, 2009)."
"Harm reduction: evidence, impacts and challenges," European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2010), p. 19.