Harm reduction is an expression that comprises policies, programmes and actions that target medical, social and economic risks/damages generated by drug use either by a unique user, a community or society (Newcombe 1992).
Harm reduction provides a pragmatic perspective on drug consumption that has been acknowledged as a significant phenomenon of our society and whose existence cannot be denied. Drug use harms an individual as well as his community and the society he lives in.
The consequences of drug use are various:
This approach is based on the hypothesis that eliminating drug use is an unrealistic objective, meaning that the socio-medical efforts should focus on treating the effects and affections caused by drug use without the exclusive goal to achieve abstinence, considering that the recovery rate of drug users is very low. The alternatives to the abstinence centered model consist of needle and syringe exchange programmes, substitution therapy, injecting rooms, voluntary and anonymous testing and counseling. The goal of these measures is to reduce the direct negative effects of drug use and to prevent the occurrence of various epidemics among the communities that use drugs.
Outreach (field activities)