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What is Harm Reduction?

IDEA Exchange Tampa operates using a Harm Reduction framework. According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, harm reduction is “…a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.”


The Harm Reduction Coalition outlines 8 principles of Harm Reduction:


Accepts, for better or worse, that licit and illicit
drug use is part of our world and chooses to work
to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply
ignore or condemn them


Establishes quality of individual and community
life and well-being — not necessarily cessation
of all drug use — as the criteria for successful
interventions and policies


Ensures that people who use drugs and those with
a history of drug use routinely have a real voice in the creation of programs and policies designed to
serve them


Recognizes that the realities of poverty, class,
racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based
discrimination, and other social inequalities affect
both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for
effectively dealing with drug-related harm


Understands drug use as a complex, multi-faceted
phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors from severe use to total abstinence, and acknowledges that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others


Calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive
provision of services and resources to people who
use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm


Affirms people who use drugs (PWUD) themselves
as the primary agents of reducing the harms
of their drug use and seeks to empower PWUD
to share information and support each other in
strategies which meet their actual conditions of


Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real
and tragic harm and danger that can be associated with illicit drug use

To read more about the principles of harm reduction, visit the National Harm Reduction Coalition here.

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