Harm reduction

Harm reduction is a set of strategies that aim to reduce negative consequences of drug use, by mitigating the potential dangers and health risks. UNODC has significantly expanded its HIV/AIDS programme thanks to support from harm reduction-friendly donor countries, despite ambiguities on the issue within UN drug control agencies. There is a need for up-scaling of basic services for HIV/AIDS prevention and the 'frontline' of heroin prescription and drug consumption rooms.

  • Tackling Violence in Mexico

    A translation of an article by Eduardo Guerrero in Nexos
    Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez
    Nexos (México)
    June, 2011

    nexosThe Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) translated the article La raíz de la violencia by Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez that was originally published in Spanish in the June 2011 edition of the Mexican magazine Nexos. Guerrero’s article, "At the Root of the Violence," deserves as wide an audience as possible. The author makes a compelling case for shifting to a strategy of "deterrence" to reduce the horrific violence that has been spreading in Mexico.

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  • Uptake, benefits of and barriers to safer crack use kit (SCUK) distribution programmes in Victoria, Canada

    A qualitative exploration
    Andrew Ivsins, Eric Roth, Nadine Nakamura, Mel Krajden & Benedikt Fischer
    International Journal of Drug Policy 22(4):292-300
    July 2011

    publicationCrack use is prevalent amongst street drug users in Canadian cities, and associated with severe drug use, health and social problems. Whilst few targeted interventions are available for crack use, the common use and sharing of hazardous makeshift paraphernalia are a key concern, as these risks may be associated with oral injury and blood-borne virus (BBV) transmission amongst users. Recently, distribution programmes of so-called 'safer crack use kits' (SCUKs) have been initiated in select Canadian cities, primarily to reduce the use of unsafe materials and paraphernalia sharing amongst crack users. This study explored uptake and benefits of, barriers to, and possible improvements to two recently implemented SCUK distribution programme in Victoria, Canada.

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  • Do crack smoking practices change with the introduction of safer crack kits?

    Leslie A. Malchy, Vicky Bungay, Joy L. Johnson & Jane Buxton
    Canadian Journal of Public Health 102(3):188-92.
    May-June 2011

    Crack smoking has increased in Vancouver despite the harms associated with its use. Many people who smoke crack share their equipment, thereby increasing their risk for infectious disease. This project explored the effects of outreach distribution of "safer crack kits" on smoking practices. While kit distribution made safer use items more accessible, its impact on safer use practice was limited. Our findings highlight the need for targeted distribution of safer use items. Future research should explore the dynamics of unsafe crack smoking practices and ways to leverage safer use messaging.

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  • The Dutch treatment and social support system for drug users

    Recent developments and the example of Amsterdam
    Eberhard Schatz, Katrin Schiffer & John Peter Kools
    IDPC Briefing Paper
    January 2011

    idpc-amsterdamThis paper, written in collaboration with the Correlation Network, briefly describes the history and the basic elements of the Dutch drug dependence treatment policy, including recent trends in drug use and the current drug treatment system implemented in the four largest cities in the Netherlands. Building on more than 30 years’ experience, the Dutch approach focuses on an integrated treatment system, which provides comprehensive support and services to the most vulnerable groups, including homeless people, problematic drug users and chronic psychiatric patients. At the same time, a strong emphasis is given to public order and crime reduction.

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  • From the Mountaintops

    What the World Can Learn from Drug Policy Change in Switzerland
    Joanne Csete
    Open Society Foundations
    October 2010

    mountaintopPublished by the Open Society Foundations, this report looks at how evidence-based services such as heroin treatment, injection rooms, and needle exchange can lower HIV infection rates, improve health outcomes, and lower crime rates.

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  • If Supply-Oriented Drug Policy is Broken, Can Harm Reduction Help Fix It?

    Melding Disciplines and Methods to Advance International Drug Control Policy
    Victoria Greenfield & Letizia Paoli
    United States Naval Academy Department of Economics
    Working Paper 30
    August 2010

    usnawp30Critics of the international drug control regime contend that supply-oriented policy interventions are not just ineffective, but they also produce unintended adverse consequences. Research suggests their claims have merit. Lasting local reductions in opium production are possible, albeit rare; but, unless global demand shrinks, production will shift elsewhere, with little or no effect on the aggregate supply of heroin and, potentially, at some expense to exiting and newly emerging suppliers.

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  • Heroin Assisted Treatment

    The state of play
    Christopher Hallam
    International Drug Policy Consortium Briefing Paper
    July 2010

    hat-idpcThis briefing paper explores the question of Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT), examines the growing body of evidence emerging from its clinical use in addiction therapies, and makes recommendations for policy makers.

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  • The Vienna Declaration

    The Vienna Declaration is a statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. We are inviting scientists, health practitioners and the public to endorse this document in order to bring these issues to the attention of governments and international agencies, and to illustrate that drug policy reform is a matter of urgent international significance. We also welcome organizational endorsements.

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  • The Safer Crack Use Program

    Fact sheet
    Toronto Public Health
    June 2010

    safer-crack-torontoThis fact sheet explains the Safer Crack Use Program of the Public Health Department of Toronto (Canada). In Toronto, a range of community-based, government and institutional agencies deliver harm reduction services. As with other harm reduction measures, there is no evidence that the distribution of safer crack use kits encourages drug use. Only people who are already using crack cocaine participate in the Safer Crack Use Program.

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  • What is harm reduction?

    A position statement from the International Harm Reduction Association
    International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA)
    May 2010

    whatishrHarm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable or unwilling to stop. The defining features are the focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself, and the focus on people who continue to use drugs.

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Chewing over Khat prohibition

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Where strict bans on khat have been introduced they have had severe unintended negative consequences and failed to further the integration, social incusion and economic prosperity of Somali communities in particular, which chew khat most widely.

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In 2011 the 1961 UN Single Convention on drugs will be in place for 50 years. In 2012 the international drug control system will exist 100 years since the International Opium Convention was signed in 1912 in The Hague. Does it still serve its purpose or is a reform of the UN Drug Conventions needed? This site provides critical background.

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