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    Wednesday, June 27, 2018

    Harm Reduction: An alternative solution to substance abuse

    Photo credit: pixabay.com

    Drug abuse is a big issue on its own, but sadly recent discoveries have revealed that it is a link to even more significant problems. One of the most significant problems that have risen due to drug abuse is the transmission and transfer of various infections as a result of injecting of drugs by drug users.
    The idea of harm reduction is centered on policies, reforms, laws, programs, practices, etc. adopted by government and stakeholders in society targeted at reducing the harm encountered by psychoactive drug users who are addicted and thus are either unwilling or somewhat unable to stop the use of drugs.
    While this may sound a bit unconventional, it is something that doesn’t only help protect the drug users themselves but also the society at large. The idea of harm reduction first came into use after more cases of HIV and AIDS were linked to drug users who inject drugs and shared needles and syringes. For one reason or the other, ranging from trust and lack of funds, many drug users share the same instruments when injecting drugs and this is very common because drug users often use drugs in groups.
    There has been a massive outcry from various schools of thought and government agencies who believe that harm reduction helps to promote and in some ways encourage the use of the drug itself. This is mostly untrue because we must accept that drug use is not something that can be stopped overnight. Thus the drug users must be protected so as not to encounter more significant problems which could be spread in many ways, thereby affecting society in the long run.
    The society holds a duty to every citizen to protect them from harm whether they are drug users or not. We have to help these people otherwise we may be faced with an even bigger problem – much more deadly and not easily controlled like drug abuse.
    Harm reduction is a strong commitment by the government to public health and human rights protection; it shows promise of government in the highest levels towards protecting the lives of citizens. The model accepts that drug abuse is a problem but also recognizes that these abusers are human beings with fundamental human rights and are citizens of society who are entitled to government protection and care.
    There are different harm reduction techniques, and each is based on the particular drug in question. In the case of drug users who inject drugs, a government may choose to roll out programs that involve the sharing of injecting instruments to drug users; this will enable those without access to new needles and syringes to access them freely and without fear of arrest.
    In some countries like France, India, Austria, Portugal, and Australia, the government has taken a step further to open centers who attend to drug users in need of injecting and other instruments. Such centers are operated in agreement with local leaders who assure the users that their safety is guaranteed; and law enforcement agencies that are prohibited from carrying out raids on drug users in and around such centers.
    It's is an evidence-based approach and since its adaptation in these countries has reduced the cases of HIV/AIDS and other blood transmitted infections and diseases.
    Another advantage of this model is that drug users can be accessed directly by experts who offer advice and rehabilitation to the drug users – who are often very open to receiving help in whatever way possible, giving evidence to the claim that drug users need help, not punishment.
    While harm reduction may not drastically reduce the number of drug users in society, it will go a long way in protecting them from further harm and death.

    It is better than not doing anything about it.

    by: Sebastiane Ebatamehi

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