27 Jun Harm Minimisation and Harm Reduction in Relation to Drug and Alcohol Use
WHAT IS HARM MINIMISATION?
Harm minimisation defines harm reduction as the policies, programmes and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unwilling or unable to stop.
So… the aim is to not try and STOP someone using drugs but reduce the risks. In the short term at the very least.
Having said that – we never promote drug use and we never advise that it is safe to use drugs.
Many people hear the words “Harm Reduction” or “Harm Minimisation”, and don’t always have an understanding of the meaning. The main point and meaning behind Harm Reduction/Minimisation is to ‘reduce the harm associated with substance use’. As most people are aware, people will use drugs and will continue to do so, until or if they decide they want to change. Telling people how much damage they are doing by using drugs, or reasons ‘you’ think they should stop, or threatening to take away love/children/accommodation etc, does not make them stop using.
There are several ways to minimise the harm associated with using drugs which include things like needle exchange programs, cocaine kits, alternative to injecting etc. This has sometimes created criticism from people who have at times commented that it is encouraging and promoting drug use. Really, we all know that drugs do not need any promoting and users do not need encouraged, they will use if they want to. It is more about acknowledging that when a person is using drugs – usually because of a “my life is not working” issue, that until some key areas have been worked on, drugs may still be depended on until a new strategy is formed.
The overall aim is to reduce risks, save lives, reduce the costs to community and health services whilst longer term strategies are put in place.
We encourage openness and honesty regarding drug use as we hold no judgements about it here. If a person is still using when they come to our clinic, we ensure they are equipped with the best information and knowledge about services that can support safe use until that person has made the decision to stop.
You can read more about harm minimisation on the Australian Government website here: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia/contents/harm-minimisation
If you or a family member are experiencing issues with addiction of any kind, please reach out. We would love to chat to you. We are here to support not judge.
By Phone 1300 766 925