Harm Reduction Saves Lives
What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction is a proactive and evidence-based approach to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with substance use at both the individual and community levels.
Harm reduction is an important part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive approach to addressing substance use disorders through prevention, treatment, and recovery where individuals who use substances set their own goals. Harm reduction's primary principle is to meet people “where they are” on their own terms, and may serve as a pathway to additional prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
Why Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction services save lives by being available and accessible to people, and emphasizing the need for humility and compassion toward people who use drugs. Harm reduction plays a significant role in preventing drug-related deaths and offering access to healthcare, social services, and treatment. This results in a reduction of overdose fatalities, acute life-threatening infections related to unsterile drug injection, and chronic diseases such as HIV/HCV.
Harm Reduction is Prevention
Harm reduction is part of the prevention continuum of care. Harm reduction approaches have proven to prevent death, injury, disease, overdose, and prevent substance misuse or disorder. Specifically, harm reduction services can:
- Connect individuals to overdose education, counseling, and referral to treatment for infectious diseases and substance use disorders.
- Distribute opioid overdose reversal medications (e.g., naloxone) to individuals at risk of overdose, or to those who might respond to an overdose.
- Lessen harms associated with drug use and related behaviors that increase the risk of infectious diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis, and bacterial and fungal infections.
- Reduce infectious disease transmission among people who use drugs, including those who inject drugs by equipping them with accurate information and facilitating referral to resources.
- Reduce overdose deaths, promote linkages to care, facilitate co-location of services as part of a comprehensive, integrated approach.
- Reduce stigma associated with substance use and co-occurring disorders
- Promote a philosophy of hope and healing by utilizing those with lived experience of recovery in the management of harm reduction services, and connecting those who have expressed interest to treatment, peer support workers and other recovery support services.
For more information visit SAMSHA
Available Harm Reduction Tools
Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative offers free harm reduction tools through the mail. Request via email or by filling out this simple form.
Learn more about naloxone/overdose reversal and safe medication storage/disposal
Comprehensive Harm Reduction Services in our Community
The Chris Atwood Foundation's Mobile Unit
Nova Salud's comprehensive harm reduction through the mail or drop-off