Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Lana D. Harrison
Harm reduction focuses on reducing the adverse consequences of psychoactive drug use and drug control policies. It is usually thought of having its roots in Dutch drug policy, which takes a public health or sociomedical approach in recognizing and responding to drug use and its consequences. A simplistic conceptualization posits that if users are unable or unwilling to refrain from drug use, then they should be assisted in reducing the harm caused to themselves and others. Harm reduction is pragmatic. It tries to minimize the damage that drug users do to themselves, to other people, and to society at large. Inherent in the conceptual fuzziness of harm reduction is deciding what constitutes harm, who is harmed, and how harms should be prioritized. Harm-reduction advocates view a “drug-free” society as unachievable, since drug use has been a part of human societies since the dawn of mankind. Therefore, they give greater priority ...