Harm Reduction

Harm reduction refers to a range of interventions that seek to reduce death, disease and injury associated with certain risky behaviours without necessarily preventing the underlying behaviour completely. Harm reduction strategies include needle exchange programs, safe injection sites, overdose prevention programs and substitution programs (e.g. managed alcohol programs, e-cigarettes). Harm reduction is often focused on the harms associated with drug use but also applies to other harms arising from tobacco use, sex work, eating disorders, and others.

Harm reduction approaches have been met with resistance. Concerns include that they enable and encourage harmful behaviours and result in harm to the community. However, there is strong evidence that many harm reduction approaches are effective, promote individual health and well-being and do not lead to social disorder in the community.




Case Law