Harm Reduction Approach To Drug Policy

"Harm reduction is an influential approach to drug policy and practice that ‘encompasses interventions, programmes and policies that seek to reduce the health, social and economic harms of drug use’ (Rhodes & Hedrich, 2010 p. 19). While a universal definition is lacking, harm reduction is distinguished by its focus on incremental positive change regarding targeted harms, which neither presupposes nor precludes abstinence as a goal. NGOs further emphasise a commitment to human rights and social justice, necessitating the separation of drug use harms from drug policy harms, and highlighting the role of policy and legal frameworks as a driver of vulnerability (e.g. HRI, n.d; HRC, n.d). Harm reduction is a cornerstone of HIV and overdose prevention, endorsed by every relevant UN agency in this regard (United Nations, 2019). It is also increasingly influential for other forms of drug use and drug related harms. However, harm reduction has primarily developed around adult drug use, obscuring theoretical, practical, ethical and legal issues pertaining to children and adolescents under the age of majority – both relating to their own use and the effects of drug use among parents or within the family."


Barrett, D., Stoicescu, C., Thumath, M., Maynard, E., Turner, R., Shirley-Beavan, S., Kurcevič, E., Petersson, F., Hasselgård-Rowe, J., Giacomello, C., Wåhlin, E., & Lines, R. (2022). Child-centred harm reduction. The International journal on drug policy, 109, 103857. Advance online publication. doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2022.103857