Harm reduction refers to the policies, practical strategies, programs, and ideas that have the sole aim of reducing the negative repercussions, which drugs generate. These policies are applicable to people who are unwilling to stop the use of drugs. The objective and defining feature of harm reduction is in the prevention of harm as opposed to the deterrence of the consumption of the drug itself (Principles of Harm Reduction, 2015). The rationale applied in harm reduction is that programs should be put up to assist individuals who are addicted to drugs be safe as possible as we work on the long-term goal of assisting them to quit the addiction.
Harm reduction became an issue of discussion after the threat of HIV Aids spreading amongst drug users using injections became an epidemic. Its application in this scenario was a success this was the beginning of using these policies in curbing many more drug-related menaces. It is fundamental to comprehend that there is no globally acceptable formula for the implementation of harm reduction. Harm reduction only acts as a complement to other approaches that work in reducing or preventing the level of drug consumption. It accepts the actuality that many people who are drug users find it difficult to quit using drugs at any particular time.
Harm reduction services and information exist to keep people safe and healthy as it provides options for people who use drugs to minimize the risks they face from continued use. It is relevant to all forms of drugs, which include controlled drugs like pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Various statistics help in understanding the impact of harm reduction. An estimated 125,000 residents of Canada inject drugs (Facts, Myths and Stats about Harm Reduction, drug use and policy | Harm Reduction Victoria, 2009). The amount of tax dollars that Canada spends on harm reduction stands at 3%. The global illegal drug market has a turnover of between $100 billion and $1 trillion. These statistics display without a doubt that drug use is a menace that all nations need to deal with using all means possible.
Various controversies surround the harm reduction strategies. Firstly, harm reduction can appear to condone illegal activities that can include abuse of drugs. A viable alternative applicable as a harm reduction strategy is the supply reduction. It involves the destruction of the source or interruption of transit of drugs. However, this strategy is expensive as it requires high intelligence and thus may not be cost effective (Principles of Harm Reduction, 2015). In addition, corruption and poverty of residents in the supplying countries are key drivers of the supply side, and this may not appear as a harm reduction strategy.
Needle and syringe exchange programs are measures that work as harm reduction strategies. These programs aim at ensuring that drug users who administer drugs using injections do not transmit diseases from one person to another using injection. However, there exists a controversy. The same governments that advocate the exchange programs for needle and syringes do not allocate them funds in the federal budget. The lack of allocation questions the government dedication in funding harm reduction measures. In some other countries, the exchange programs are present but, upon collection of the same, the police impound on the user as if they were committing a criminal offense.
Elimination of all harm reduction controversies is a prerequisite if the strategies must achieve the stipulated objectives. Governments across the globe must work to ensure that they streamline their policies so that harm reduction strategies can work.
- Facts, Myths and Stats about Harm Reduction, drug use and policy | Harm Reduction Victoria. (2009, January 20). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://harmreductionvictoria.ca/?q=node/56
- Principles of Harm Reduction. (2015, March 27). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://harmreduction.org/about-us/principles-of-harm-reduction/