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.
Canadian harm reduction policies: A comparative content analysis of provincial and territorial documents, 2000–2015
(Wild et al. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2017)
Zone restrictions orders in Canadian courts and the reproduction of socio-economic inequality
(Sylvestre. Oñati Socio-Legal Series. 2015)
Harm reduction in name, but not substance: A comparative analysis of current Canadian provincial and territorial policy frameworks
(Hyshka et al. Harm Reduction Journal. 2017)
Accessibilité aux traitements de substitution à la méthadone et réduction des méfaits: Le rôle d’un programme à exigences peu élevées
(Perreault et al. Revue Canadienne de Santé Publique. 2003)