Harm Reduction

Photo credit: Charles McKay / HRI — Avert is a UK-based, internationally focused charity, using digital communications to build health literacy on HIV and sexual health

Harm reduction or harm minimisation refers to a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with recreational drug use and other high risk activities. Harm reduction is put forward as a useful perspective alongside the more conventional approaches of demand and supply reduction.

Many advocates argue that prohibitionist laws criminalize people for suffering from a disease and cause harm, for example by obliging drug addicts to obtain drugs of unknown purity from unreliable criminal sources at high prices, increasing the risk of overdose and death.

Its critics are concerned that tolerating risky or illegal behaviour sends a message to the community that these behaviours are acceptable.