Sociology Index


Harm reduction, a term often used in discussions of drug users, prostitutes, etc. Rather than taking a moralistic approach, perhaps focusing on punishment or rehabilitation, the system tries to reduce the harm that comes to such offenders.

Harm reduction example, providing drug users with clean needles, or perhaps with a safe place to shoot-up, or even to provide them with standardized heroin. The community could provide a safe area for prostitutes to work, provide free testing for infectious diseases, etc. All of this will result in harm reduction to the ‘offenders’ but in the long-term should also reduce harm to the community.

Substance abuse and developments in harm reduction - Yuet W. Cheung, Dr. Cheung is Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong. - A drug is a substance that produces a psychoactive, chemical or medicinal effect on the user. The psychoactive effect of mood-altering drugs is modulated by the user's perception of the risks of drug use, his or her ability to control drug use and the demographic, socioeconomic and cultural context.

The ability to control drug use may vary along a continuum from compulsive use at one end to controlled use at the other. The "drug problem" has been socially constructed, and the presence of a moral panic has led to public support for the prohibitionist approach. The legalization approach has severely attacked the dominant prohibitionist approach but has failed to gain much support in society because of its extreme libertarian views. The harm reduction approach, which is based on public health principles, avoids the extremes of value-loaded judgements on drug use and focuses on the reduction of drug-related harm through pragmatic and low-threshold programs.

Harm Reduction for the Prevention of Youth Gambling Problems 
Lessons Learned from Adolescent High-Risk Behavior Prevention Programs 
Laurie M. Dickson, Jeffrey L. Derevensky, Rina Gupta, International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors McGill University 
Despite the growing popularity of the harm reduction approach in the field of adolescent alcohol and substance abuse, a harm reduction approach to prevention and treatment of youth problem gambling remains largely unexplored. This article poses the question of whether the harm reduction paradigm is a promising approach to the prevention of adolescent problem gambling and other risky behavior. The authors use a universal, selective, and indicative prevention framework to present current prevention initiatives that have emerged from the harm reduction health paradigm for adolescent substance and alcohol abuse. The risk-protective factor model is used as a conceptual basis for designing youth problem gambling harm reduction prevention programs. This framework illustrates the developmental appropriateness of the harm reduction approach for youth. Implications drawn from this conceptual examination of harm reduction as a prevention approach to adolescent problem gambling provide valuable information for treatment providers as well.

Harm reduction services for British Columbia's First Nation population: a qualitative inquiry into opportunities and barriers for injection drug users - Dennis Wardman and Darryl Quantz
Abstract: Background: Aboriginal injection drug users are the fastest growing group of new Human Immunodeficiency Virus cases in Canada. However, there remains a lack of comprehensive harm reduction services available to First Nation persons, particularly for First Nation people dwelling in rural and reserve communities. This paper reports findings from an exploratory study of current harm reduction practices in First Nation communities. The purpose of this study was to provide an overview of the availability and content of current harm reduction practices, as well as to identify barriers and opportunities for implementing these services in First Nation communities.
Conclusion: It was recommended that community education efforts be directed broadly within the community before establishing harm reduction services and that the readiness of communities be assessed.

Community tobacco control leaders’ perceptions of harm reduction 
A M Joseph, D Hennrikus,, M J Thoele, R Krueger and D Hatsukami
Objective: To investigate community tobacco control leaders’ attitudes toward harm reduction approaches to tobacco use, in order to assess benefits and risks associated with these strategies. 
Outcome measures: Participants discussed definitions of harm reduction; benefits and risks of harm reduction methods; and how funds for tobacco control research and programmes should be allocated. 
Results: Results indicated inconsistency about the definition of harm reduction: most groups included a broad range of strategies that extended beyond those typically referenced in the scientific literature. Many participants stated that harm reduction might be beneficial, particularly for smokers who could not or would not quit. Participants were inclined to suggest public policy measures (for example, smoking bans, increased taxes) as means for reducing harm. 
Conclusions: Results indicate that even among tobacco control leaders there is a need for common terminology to describe harm reduction approaches and that public policy approaches to harm reduction are considered more dependable than strategies that involve pharmaceutical treatment or rely on the tobacco industry, such as product modification.

How Effective are Harm Reduction Programmes for Drug Users? Some Insights from an Evaluation of the Programme at Sharan in Delhi 
Kumar Ravi Priya, Kumar Ravi Priya and Suneet Varma are at the Department of Psychology, University of Delhi.
Siddharth Singh, Siddharth Singh is at the Asian Harm Reduction Network, Chiang Mai University.
Jimmy Dorabjee, Jimmy Dorabjee is at the Centre for Harm Reduction, Burnet Institute
Suneet Varma, Luke Samson, Luke Samson is at the Society for Service to Urban Poverty.
One important reason for drug use being a matter of deep concern is the risk of HIV infection associated with it. Apart from the practice of unsafe sex among drug users, in recent decades sharing of needles/syringes by injecting drug users has contributed substantially to the spread of HIV/AIDS. The WHO has noted that the harm reduction approach provides an anxiety-free atmosphere (denied by the traditional abstinence-based intervention programmes) for drug users where they learn and discuss the personal social significance of not sharing needles/syringes and exchanging free needles/syringes. Importantly, apart from needle/syringe exchange, oral substitution of drugs, medical care and education to prevent HIV/AIDS, a harm reduction programme provides a psychological space to drug users that not only acts an emotional support but also enables them to reflect upon their life and risk behaviour. Apart from indicating the need of harm reduction programmes, this article also evaluates the effectiveness of such a programme run by Sharan, an NGO in Delhi, during 1999–2002.

18th International Conference for the Reduction of Drug Related Harm
Sunday, 13 May: “Harm Reduction: The Coming of Age” – the session will provide a review of the last 18 years in the field of harm reduction and attempt to look into the future of the field and into how it might develop, including such factors as the institutionalization of HR and its positive and negative elements.
Monday, 14 May: “Prisons and Harm Reduction” – the session will concentrate on the problems and opportunities concerned with the implementation of harm reduction programs in penitentiary settings.
Tuesday, 15 May: “HIV, Hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases – treatment and prevention from the HR point of view” – this session will attempt to provide a rich and diverse source of information and opinions on the issues of HIV, Hepatitis.
Wednesday, 16 May: “Empowering Communities” – this session will cover the involvement of people who use drugs, local communities and peer work, and the chances these factors offer for the improvement of the effectiveness of harm reduction in its diverse forms.
Thursday, 17 May: “The Drug Regulation Controversy – Alcohol, Tabacco and Illicit Drugs” – the session will focus on the discussion of the issues of drug regulation and will concentrate on discussing actual scientific data instead of the usual political arguments and popular beliefs, which so often tend to cloud the topic.