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Disclaimer

This website does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this guide is to promote harm reduction and awareness of harm reduction methods. Detox Local does not condone, support, or promote the use of drugs or alcohol. This guide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from a physician regarding medical conditions and substance use. The information in this guide is true and complete to the best of our knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee of safety or the prevention of harm caused by drugs or alcohol. The author and Detox Local disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.

OVERVIEW OF HARM REDUCTION

Many countries in Europe, as well as Canada and Australia, are adopting a new proven way to reduce the negative costs of addiction on people and society as a whole. This wave of harm reduction methods is reaching the United States and gaining popularity rapidly. It is proven that needle exchanges and supervised injection sites significantly reduce HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other infections and diseases. They also reduce opioid overdose deaths. Non-profit organizations are starting to see new grants and sponsorships from governments because many harm reduction methods simply work. The purpose of this guide is to overview harm reduction methods, raise awareness, reduce stigmatization of drug users, and educate drug users and non-drug users alike about the benefits of harm reduction.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT #HARMREDUCTION

Reduction of risky behavior among those who participate in needle exchange program

Of AIDS cases among women are directly linked to IV drug use

Of needle exchange programs provide a large range of public health services

Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Obviously, complete abstinence is the most effective way to reduce drug-caused harm. The next best way is harm reduction. The best thing to compare it to is practicing safe sex - no sex prevents all harm, but safe sex significantly reduces STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Harm reduction works the same way. Many people are not willing or are not ready to stop using drugs. The safer they are while using drugs, the less disease, infection, and deaths will occur.

Harm reduction can be applied to every substance. There is always a safer way to use substances, whether they be alcohol, opioids, prescription drugs, crack, meth, or ecstasy. The most commonly known harm reduction is opioid and intravenous drug use harm reduction. This is because needle exchanges are becoming much more popular around the world including the United States. This is because needle exchanges are one of the most effective ways to prevent HIV/AIDS. According to the ACLU, more than a quarter of all Americans with HIV directly contracted the illness from intravenous drug use. Also, needle exchange programs have reduced HIV infections by one-third to two-fifths nationwide, so it is no surprise that their acceptance and popularity is increasing.

Harm Reduction Statistics

OD Deaths Since 1996

Men Women X Axis: Year, Y Axis: OD Deaths

This chart depicts the drastic increase in unintentional overdose deaths among men and women (Men-light blue; Women-dark blue). Since 1990, drug overdose deaths have more than quadrupled. This is mostly due to the increase of prescription opioid use and heroin use nationwide. Several states have declared a public health emergency and are allocating more funds toward harm reduction programs and the distribution of the life-saving drug naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid blocker that can reverse an opioid overdose. In 2016, roughly 59,000 people died from drug overdose.

Treatment Admissions for Cocaine Vs Opiate

Opiates Cocaine X Axis: Year, Y Axis: Admissions For Substance

Cocaine used to be a major problem in the United States. This turned when opioid painkillers began being prescribed on a mass scale. Now the number one reason people admit into addiction treatment centers is for opioid dependency. Cocaine admissions are dropping rapidly while opioid admissions are skyrocketing. Harm reduction programs, like nedle exchanges, increase the liklihood of rehabilitation for people who want it. Drug users who participate in needle exchange programs are 5x more likely to attend addiction treatment programs compared to those who do not.

TYPES OF HARM REDUCTION INITIATIVES

In addition to preventing HIV among users, needle exchange programs help prevent the spread in children. More than half of all children with HIV in the United States contracted the virus from a parent that was using intravenous drugs. It was also found that participants in needle exchange programs were 5 times as likely to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program.

"More than half of children with HIV/AIDS in the US contracted the virus from a parent that was using IV drugs."

In addition to needle exchange programs, there has been a major increase in drug testing sites. Some of these organizations are beginning to be invited to music festivals and nightclubs. These groups use similar drug tests used by the police. It is common to fake, or cut, clubs drugs like LSD, MDMA, MDA, and others.

In the past 10 years there has been a major increase in research chemicals and “bath salts” used to mimic other safer popular drugs. This has lead to more overdoses, trips to psychiatric hospitals, and other types of injuries. These groups are enabling users to use safer dosages, learn the signs of overdose, how to prevent overdose, and avoid mysterious research drugs.

"It is common to fake, or "cut," club drugs with dangerous chemicals."

Harm reduction can also refer to techniques. For instance knowing how alcohol can affect BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is a form of harm reduction. Knowing how quickly one can consume alcohol can prevent dangerous overdose, blackout, and risky decisions. Knowing how many drinks per hour and how much water to consume can help prevent hangovers and injury. These techniques are often taught in restaurants to staff but are gaining popularity on college campuses as well.

Find A Needle Exchange

Sources

  • https://caps.ucsf.edu/library/needle-exchange-programs-nep/
  • http://harmreduction.org/issues/overdose-prevention/
  • http://harmreductionactioncenter.org/fact-sheet/
  • https://www.aclu.org/fact-sheet/needle-exchange-programs-promote-public-safety
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3358593/

Disclaimer

This website does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this guide is to promote harm reduction and awareness of harm reduction methods. Detox Local does not condone, support, or promote the use of drugs or alcohol. This guide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from a physician regarding medical conditions and substance use. The information in this guide is true and complete to the best of our knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee of safety or the prevention of harm caused by drugs or alcohol. The author and Detox Local disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.