What is Harm Reduction?
Harm Reduction is a way of promoting health and preventing drug related harm that meets people where they are at.
Harm reduction focuses on reducing the risks and adverse health consequences associated with unsafe drug use, in particular HIV and viral hepatitis.
Harm reduction programs have been shown to lower risk of HIV and hepatitis transmission for drug users by offering information and assistance in a non-judgmental manner.
Important Principles of Harm Reduction Include:
- A non-judgmental approach that treats every person with dignity, compassion, and respect.
- Use of evidence-based and cost-effective practices to prevent and reduce drug related harm
- Active and meaningful participation of drug users and community stakeholders in shaping sensible policies and practices around drug use
- Focus on enhancing quality of life for individuals and communities, rather than promoting cessation of all drug use
- Recognition of the determinants of health and the complex interplay of social factors that influence vulnerability to drug-related harm, including poverty, social inequality and discrimination
- Empowerment of drug users as the primary agents in reducing drug related harms
- Commitment to defending universal human rights.
Harm reduction activities and interventions to improve the health and quality of life for people who use drugs and their communities, include:
- Peer education
- Needle and syringe programs (NSPs);
- Pharmacotherapies (ORT) for drug dependence, including methadone and suboxone;
- Voluntary testing for HIV, viral hepatitis and other STIs or blood borne infections;
- Confidential pre and post-test discussion and counselling
- Access to treatment for HIV and hepatitis C & B and other STIs
- Provision of primary health care including wound care
- Overdose prevention activities, including peer distribution of Naloxone and first aid training;
- Referral to drug treatment programs as requested.
As our name suggests (Harm Reduction Victoria) HARM REDUCTION is our stock and trade and all the information on our website is based on a ‘harm reduction’ approach to drug use.
‘Harm reduction’ recognizes that abstinence (i.e. quitting drugs altogether) isn’t realistic or possible for everyone. However, this should not disqualify drug users from the same chances and choices about health care as non-users. By learning about drugs and ways to reduce the harms associated with drug use, you are empowering yourself to make informed choices.
HRV’s website provides you with non-judgmental, accurate, up to date information so that you can make healthy choices for yourself. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, we have included links to other excellent websites, and to other drug user organisations, for all the information you need to stay safe.