Harm reduction topics page

Harm reduction topics page


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.

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European countries seek to reduce the harms related to drug use through the provision of needle and syringe programmes — aimed at preventing the spread of infectious diseases — and opioid substitution treatment — aimed at reducing harms associated with the use of illicit opioids such as heroin. Other harm reduction interventions, such as take-home naloxone and drug consumption rooms, are available in a smaller number of countries.