"Harm reduction" is a term you will hear in the field of substance abuse and addiction. It does not refer to one system of drug treatment but is rather an umbrella term that covers a number of activities.
At various times in various countries, different individuals in governmental or non-governmental agencies have come to the conclusion that it was simply not possible to get some people to break free from addiction. When investment after investment and recovery plan after recovery plan met with defeat, what was left was "harm reduction". The thought seems to be: "You can't stop them from taking drugs so let's reduce the amount of harm that drug consumption does."
In particular, disease is a particular target of harm reduction. Diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C are spread by shared needles. Abscesses, inflammation of the heart and other types of infections are also caused by unsanitary practices when shooting drugs.
So for some people, the war on drugs shifted to a battle to reduce avoidable dangers related to drug abuse and addiction. In fact, one online journal that publishes studies and scientific information relating to harm reduction states their purpose this way: "We define 'harm reduction' as 'policies and programs which aim to reduce the health, social, and economic costs of legal and illegal psychoactive drug use without necessarily reducing drug consumption'."
For example, in Seattle, a county website will give the locations and schedule to get clean needles and drop off used ones. The same website also gives tips to avoid overdoses. Amazingly, there is even a guide to finding veins in your arms and with specific advice for female shooters.
In 2003, a safe injection site opened in Vancouver, British Columbia -- a place heroin addicts or other shooters could use their drugs under supervision. The benefits were clean needles, immediate medical care for overdoses and the staff in the center could interview drug users and try to refer them to addiction treatment services. Some people credit harm reduction efforts with reducing the number of new HIV infections in the city by 52 percent since 1996. There's also evidence that there have been fewer overdose deaths when a safe injection site is available.
In Europe, harm reduction is coordinated by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Lisbon, Portugal. In a recent report, the EMCDDA notes that harm reduction goes back as far as efforts to give opiate-addicted people prescription heroin or morphine in the 1920s and continued with the development of methadone a few decades later. The report also notes that every member of the European Union had one or more clean needle programs running and that by 2007 650,000 people were in opiate-substitution programs across Europe.
There's a very big downside. The drug-using people participating in these programs are still addicted to drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or morphine. While some participants do get referred into a treatment program, the majority do not.
With Narconon, it is possible to see the end of addiction to heroin, opiates, methamphetamine, alcohol or other drugs for good. The Narconon program is holistic, meaning it addresses the entire person, the causes of addiction and the results of addiction. There's no better way to ensure one's future sobriety than to address the reasons one started using drugs and then learn the tools to prevent failure in this area in the future.
Add to this the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program. This exclusive feature takes drug recovery to a new level. Through the use of a low-heat sauna, exercise and a strict regimen of nutritional supplements, recovering addicts flush old drug residues from the fatty tissues where they tend to lodge. The body literally "sweats out" the remnants of old drugs that can be involved in triggering cravings even years after drug use stopped. Those completing this phase of recovery often say their cravings are reduced and some even say they are gone.
Follow this with a thorough grounding in drug-free life skills. An understanding of the causes of loss of one's personal integrity and how integrity can be restored, when it has been lost. The ability to face negative circumstances and turn them around for the better. A non-denominational moral code to act as a compass at moments of challenge. These life skills and more are essential parts of a lasting recovery from addiction.
When real, lasting recovery from addiction is possible, then it is no longer necessary to settle for "harm reduction". It is possible to live clean and sober after opiate, cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol or other addictions. We can eliminate the damage done by addiction and then go one better -- restore the formerly addicted person to lasting sobriety. That's a win for the person and a win for society.