Harm reduction programs connect people who use drugs to supplies (e.g., new syringes, fentanyl test strips, and naloxone) that help prevent overdose deaths and the spread of infections. They also connect people to healthcare, medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), HIV testing and HIV Peer Support.
While abstinence-only approaches to drug use focus on the cessation of all drug use, harm reduction prioritizes community wellbeing and quality-of-life. This may include abstinence for some people, based on what works best for them. But, because drug use is also about so much more than the substance itself, policies and programs to address drug use also have to be about much more than the drug in question. That’s where harm reduction comes in!