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A harm reduction appraoch to providing services to drug users: A literature review

13 December 1999


Traditional drug treatment models have been unsuccessful in addressing the needs of the majority of people who are using drugs or reducing overall drug use_ Harm reduction is a value-neutral service model that offers an alternative to traditional abstinence-based models of drug treatment The harm reduction perspective contends that harm related to drug use can be addressed without requiring people to be abstinent from drugs. The first harm reduction services developed out of concerns about the relation between HIV transmission and injection drug use. Examples of harm reduction services include methadone maintenance and needle exchange programs. Programs attempt to provide population-specific services and to include participants in program development and service provision. It is necessary that harm reduction is clearly defined, that services are consistent with this definition, that research efforts are able to adequately measure drug-related harm, and that programs make efforts to work collaboratively with other service models.


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