Why is harm-reduction so controversial?


If harm-reduction strategy truly reduces harm, then why is it so controversial? How can cutting risk be a bad thing?

asked 08 Mar '12, 18:01

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Harm-reduction aims to lessen the damaging consequences of drug use and addiction. An example of harm-reduction would be Vancouver's InSight supervised injection site, where heroin addicts can come and use clean supplies in a medical environment. This serves to stop the spread of deadly diseases and other illnesses transferable by dirty needles shared on the streets. Though they are not stoping drug use, they are reducing its overall harm.

(09 Mar '12, 17:52) Jack ♦


Drug Addiction

Harm-reduction aims to lessen the dangers associated with drug addiction.


Drug Abuse

There is no easy solution to stop drug abuse, so harm-reduction strategy aims to make it safer.



Harm-Reductionists know that drug use is inevitable, so they want to make it as safe as it can be.

Harm-reduction does not aim to stop drug use, but to make inevitable drug use safer. Many people don't like this because they say it prolongs addiction and promotes illegal activity. They would say something like, "if you really want to help someone, take away their drugs and send them to rehab."

Proponents of harm-reduction would fight back saying, "even if you could send all addicts to rehab (which is spatially impossible), you cannot force someone to stop and recover. Harm-reduction allows them to live another day, so when they are ready to change, they are alive to do it."


What they call "harm reduction" is actually allowing drug abuse. That's controversial. If it's illegal, why allow it? And if you allow it, how can you justify spending tax dollars to allow drug users to do their illegal thing more safely?

The same people who feel this way, often say that making it safer is not a priority, because drug abusers can make their lives safer by simply not doing drugs.

People who try and sell "harm reduction" are often the same people who want to give money to drug addicts so they can get cleaned up, when all they will do is buy more drugs.

See the controversy? It's like religion and politics combined.

If drugs are illegal, then crime and violence follow from drug use. If drug use is legal, then what? No one wants to find out. So they make it illegal and wage an endless "war on drugs".

That Insight program was designed to collect data on how society changes if illegal drug use is managed via harm reduction. Does crime go down? Do health care costs go down? Does drug use increase? I guess we'll find out eventually, but there will be battles over what the data say since the topic is so controversial.

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Asked: 08 Mar '12, 18:01

Seen: 6,274 times

Last updated: 16 Apr '12, 20:40