Definition of Harm Reduction
Harm reduction is a public health approach backed by evidence and centred on the clinical needs of the individual. The goal is to reduce the harm associated with problematic behaviours, such as substance misuse.
Reducing harm focuses both on the individual and societal impacts of behaviour. Harm reduction is responsible for improved health outcomes for each patient, while reducing harms to society as a whole (cost, decreased rates of communicable diseases, etc.).
Harm Reduction in Practice
Harm reduction is a standard approach to practice in most health authorities in Canada. It is also utilized regularly in urban centres in the United States. Common harm reduction practices include:
- Easy access to Opioid Agonist Therapy
- Injectable Opioid Agonist Therapy
- Promotion of condoms throughout society
- Safe smoking kits for crack cocaine and methamphetamine
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy
**Harm reduction is often used in conjunction with Motivational Interviewing. You can learn more in our article, "Motivational Interviewing Essentials - Mastering Addiction Psychology."