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                                                                           HARM REDUCTION


  Harm Reduction: A Band-Aid Solution and Interim Approach 


Harm Reduction is the First Positive Reform For Victims of Drug Abuse.  It is a Band-Aid Solution because it Does Not Prevent Abuse, It Responds to It.  Many See This as a Catalyst to A Climate That Desperately Needs to Change. 

HR Can Be Applied to Every Substance and to Situations in Life Beyond Drugs and Alcohol.

Taken directly from the European model, harm reduction is a social reform strategy that applies to a situation after it has occurred.  Harm reduction was designed for multiple application objectives.  First, and foremost, harm reduction is a philosophy of public health, intended to be a progressive alternative to the prohibition of certain lifestyle choices. The central idea of harm reduction is the recognition that some people always have and always will engage in behaviors which carry risks, such as casual sex, prostitution, and drug use.

Harm reduction initiatives range from widely accepted designated driver campaigns, to more controversial initiatives like the provision of condoms in schools, needle exchange programs, safe injection rooms (see safer injection sites below), drug legalization, and heroin maintenance programs.

Thus, the primary purpose and main objective of harm reduction is to mitigate the potential dangers and health risks associated with the behaviors themselves.

2) Another objective of harm reduction is to reduce harm associated with, or caused by the legal circumstances under which the behaviors are carried out (such as the prohibition of a substance or act, which causes people to take certain behaviors "underground" into an environment where the risk of harm or exploitation is increased).

Harm reductionists contend that no one should be denied services, such as healthcare and social security, merely because they take certain risks or exhibit certain behaviors that are generally disapproved of by society as a whole, or its laws . Further, harm reduction seeks to take a social justice stance in response to behaviors such as the use of illicit drugs or prostitution, as opposed to criminalizing and prosecuting these behaviors. Often, harm reduction advocates view the prohibition of drugs as discriminatory, ineffective and counter-productive. Among other arguments, they point out that the burden placed on the public health system and society as a whole from cannabis use and other illegal drugs are relatively low. They also contend that the substances are still widely used, despite extremely expensive attempts to enforce laws criminalizing them, and that the prohibition has the effect of criminalizing and marginalizing otherwise law-abiding drug users.

Critics of harm reduction contend that it appears to condone and even facilitate behaviors that are dangerous, socially destabilizing or considered immoral. For these reasons, harm reduction has been very controversial in the United States, where it has met more resistance than in Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, debate about harm reduction is very polarized. Advocates are often characterized as "pro-drug". Opponents of harm reduction are often criticised for ignoring the realities and circumstances of addictions, disregarding scientific evidence, marginalizing the basic human rights of affected persons, and responding from a position of "moral panic". It's rather poignant that harm reduction opposition comes from those involved with the manufacture of illicit drugs, physicians, and healthcare staff who are threatened by any progressive action.  In countries where drug abuse is a major industry -- such as the US -- a thriving black market simply offers greater control over the population in a very sadistic sense.   Harm Reduction threatens to eradicate that control by empowering drug users / abusers which will ultimately lead to the discovery that it's not the drug that is causing chaos and upheaval but rather the healthcare system, drug counselors and politicians which use zero tolerance as a means to discriminate and displace members of society.  If they could, many opponents of harm reduction would strip away everything that a drug user / abuser has and bind their bodies to billboards as an advertisement to the public much the same way the Romans did with crucifixion.  Instead, the only showcase these critics get is limited to the courtroom which hardly is satisfactory to them.  The idea is to hide their own guilt.

There is a separate group of harm reductionists that advocate an approach which is sometimes referred to as gradualism. Gradualism advocates are of the opinion that harm reduction programs are sometimes rooted in pessimism about the ability of addicts to stop their illegal addictive behaviors and represent the "soft bigotry of low expectations."[citation needed] They are unlikely to categorize interventions as "good" or "bad". Rather, they tend to be more concerned that programs should urge clients toward abstinence when windows of opportunity open.  Thus, the common approach to gradualism is is work back to zero tolerance.  If a drug user/abuser cuts their dosage in half and then in half again... and again... and again... until they asymptotically reach zero to within a grain or two of the drug for the period of a month, gradualism would work, but it doesn't.  It's simply a more expensive method of adopting zero tolerance and it is not the direction we want to be heading having already gone the first route. For some, gradualism might work, but for the majority, particularly for those who are comfortable with their lifestyle, gradualism is just delaying reality longer at the cost of taxpayer dollars. 

Ardis Moe, MD from the UCLA Health Care Center provides her own definition of gradualism as "zero tolerance with about three weeks to a month of reducing down to zero."  It is frightful to think that these are the physicians that we depend on to provide patient care.  Yuck!