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.

  • Global State of Harm Reduction

    Harm Reduction International

    The Global State of Harm Reduction e-tool is an online resource containing up-to-date information on harm reduction policy and programming around the world. The web pages draw on the latest research in this area to present an at-a-glance guide to the current state of harm reduction worldwide.

    Go to the interactive map (outside link)

  • Heroin-assisted treatment in Switzerland

    Successfully regulating the supply and use of a high-risk injectable drug
    January 2017

    A number of countries – including Switzerland, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada – prescribe heroin for use under medical supervision, as part of successful programmes to treat long-term users of illicit opioids. Heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) is significantly less common than opioid substitution treatment (OST). This is because HAT is typically reserved for opioid users who have proven unresponsive to other forms of treatment, and because it is considered more politically controversial. But despite its relatively limited availability, there is now a substantial body of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of HAT. This evidence provides useful lessons for managing one of the most risky and problematic forms of drug use as a public health challenge, rather than a criminal justice one.

    Download the briefing (PDF - outside link)

  • The harm reduction movement needs to rediscover its soul

    Harm reduction is not just an HIV intervention – it is a basic human right that should be available to everyone
    The Influence (US)
    Friday, August 5, 2016

    People who use drugs are being marginalized even within the world of harm reduction advocacy; they were rendered virtually invisible at the AIDS2016 conference in Durban. The true spirit of the original harm reduction movement is about meeting people where they are at, without judgement, and helping them find them achieve their drug use aims (including abstinence) in the way that causes the least harm to them, irrespective of the current legal and policy framework.

  • Junk policy

    John Marks saw crime rates and junkie numbers plummet in an amazing experiment outlawed by the British government
    The Spectator (UK)
    Saturday, May 9, 2015

    A century ago, in 1914, the United States banned heroin and cocaine, and it then gradually used its diplomatic might to impose this ban across the world. Doctors tried to resist here in Britain and across the world, because they believed that if addicts were forced to buy contaminated drugs from armed criminal gangs, their health would only get worse. Doctors wanted to prescribe drugs to chronic addicts. This resistance only succeeded in one country — Britain, by a doctor called John Marks. This little window of legal drug use continued quietly for decades. 

  • Drug users should be able to get heroin from the health system

    Politicians may not like it, but evidence shows that giving heroin to some users reduces harm
    BMJ (UK)
    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

    No fewer than six randomised controlled trials – in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Canada, and England – concluded that heroin assisted treatment is more effective than conventional treatments in a subgroup of heroin users. The most recent Cochrane Collaboration review concurred, stating, "Available evidence suggests an added value of heroin prescribed alongside flexible doses of methadone for long term, treatment refractory, opioid users, to reach a decrease in the use of illicit substances, involvement in criminal activity and incarceration, a possible reduction in mortality, and an increase in retention in treatment."

  • Global State of Harm Reduction 2014

    Harm Reduction International
    February 2015

    In 2008, Harm Reduction International released the Global State of Harm Reduction, a report that mapped responses to drug-related HIV and hepatitis C epidemics around the world for the first time.(1) The data gathered for the report provided a critical baseline against which progress could be measured in terms of the international, regional and national recognition of harm reduction in policy and practice. Since then, the biennial report has become a key publication for researchers, policymakers, civil society organisations and advocates, mapping harm reduction policy adoption and programme implementation globally.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF - outside link)

  • Cocaine: towards a self-regulation model

    New developments in Harm Reduction
    Grazia Zuffa
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 24
    February 2014

    By taking cues from users’ self-regulation strategies, it is possible to design innovative operational models for drug services as well as drug policies, strengthening Harm Reduction as an alternative approach to the disease model. A significant body of research on cocaine users recruited outside captive populations – that is, studies based on samples of users who have not been enrolled through drug addiction services – has been carried out in many European countries and outside Europe. These studies show a variety of patterns and trajectories of use other than “addictive” use.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

    application-pdfScarica il rapporto in italiano (PDF)

  • Coffee Shops and Compromise

    Separated Illicit Drug Markets in the Netherlands
    Jean-Paul Grund & Joost Breeksema
    Global Drug Policy Program (Open Society Foundations)
    July 2013

    Building on a long history and culture of tolerance, the Dutch responded to illicit drugs with decades of pragmatic measures free of judgment. A central element of modern Dutch drug policy was a crucial decision to establish a legal and practical separation of cannabis—judged to pose "acceptable" risks to consumers and society—from hard drugs associated with unacceptable risk. This policy effectively decriminalized possession and use of cannabis and opened the door for tolerated outlets for small-scale cannabis sales that eventually took the form of the well-known Dutch "coffee shops."

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF)

  • Insite - Not Just Injecting, But Connecting

    The only legally-operating injecting facility in North America
    Peter Sarosi, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Last year the HCLU’s video advocacy group travelled to Vancouver, to make a film about Insite, the only legally-operating injecting facility in North America. When we arrived at Hastings Street, in Vancouver's downtown Eastside, where Insite is located, we were taken aback by the magnitude of the street drug scene we found there.

  • The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS

    The global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners. Throughout the world, research has consistently shown that repressive drug law enforcement practices force drug users away from public health services and into hidden environments where HIV risk becomes markedly elevated. Mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders also plays a major role in spreading the pandemic. Today, there are an estimated 33 million people worldwide living with HIV – and injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF - outside link)


Page 1 of 7