*ie: Drug-injection sites, needle-exchange programs, heroin maintenance, non-abstinence based treatment and legalization

RAND's Reuter Warns That Government Must Focus on Reducing Harm, Not Reducing Total Numbers of Drug Users DRUG POLICY STUDIES
June 1993

Drug policy analyst Peter Reuter of RAND warned a May 10 conference on drugs in the workplace that government policy is misguided in seeking to reduce prevalence of drug use rather than harmful patterns of drug use (Buraff Publications, "Keynoter: Deal With Hard-Core Drug Problems, Focus On Harmful Effects Instead Of Prevalence," National Report On Substance Abuse, 5/21/93, Vol. 7 No. 12, p. 1).

Reuter was keynote speaker at the Drug-Free Workplace Conference in Washington, D.C. Analyzing the past decade of increasingly punitive drug policy, Reuter criticized the penal focus that has put huge numbers of drug offenders in state and federal prisons, and noted that Western Europeans "do not automatically reach for the prison cell" to deal with drugs.

Peter Reuter is co-director of the Rand Drug Policy Research Center, 2100 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20037. The phone number is (202) 296-5000.

At the last World Conference on drug related issues, drug policy experts from twenty-five nations agreed that the softening of drug policy, commonly termed ≥HARM REDUCTION≤ has been a major FAILURE! They concluded that ≥HARM REDUCTION≤ policies INCREASE DRUG USE and CRIME wherever they are implemented. (Institute on Global Drug Policy)

"I cannot see that there is data that would support this type of observation. Fortunately, we slowly have more and more data available from Europe, and it is not really difficult for you to check on as many aspects as you can on these types of allegations. "

Peter Cohen, Director, Centre for Drug Research, School of Social Science, University of Amsterdam
Proceedings of the Special Committee on Illegal Drugs - Evidence for May 28, 2002

In Canada today, the HARM REDUCTIONISTS have dominated national, provincial and local drug policy decisions. BUT their FALSE PROMISES threaten the well-being of our children and our society......PLUS, they are costing Canadians millions of dollars that would otherwise be directed to REAL HEALTH CARE. Canada needs to learn more about prevention, law enforcement and treatment.

It must be emphasized that the harm reduction perspective is still under active development and there is as yet no consensus on its fundamentals. Nevertheless, the following may be considered a current working list of its basic components:

  1. Nonmedical use of psychoactive drugs is inevitable in any society that has access to such drugs. Drug policies cannot be based on a utopian belief that nonmedical drug use will be eliminated.

  2. Nonmedical drug use will inevitably produce important social and individual harm. Drug policies cannot be based on a utopian belief that all drug users will always use drugs safely.

  3. Drug policies must be pragmatic They must be assessed on their actual consequences, not on whether they symbolically send the right, the wrong, or mixed messages.

  4. Drug users are an integral part of the larger community. Protecting the health of the community as a whole therefore requires protecting the health of drug users, and this requires integrating the drug users within the community rather than attempting to isolate them from it.

  5. Drug use leads to individual and social harms through many different mechanisms, so a wide range of interventions is needed to address these harms. These interventions include providing health care (including drug abuse treatment) to current drug users; reducing the numbers of persons who are likely to begin using some drugs; and, particularly, enabling users to switch to safer forms of drug use. It is not always necessary to reduce nonmedical drug use in order to reduce harms.

Des Jarlais, Don C. "Harm Reduction: A Framework for Incorporating Science into Drug Policy" American Journal of Public Health 85 (1995):10-12.

See: Drug War Facts - International
Harm Reduction

Home  ∑  About IDEAS  ∑  Discussion  ∑  Cannabis  ∑  Harm Reduction  ∑  Sweden  ∑  Links  ∑  Contact 

Copyright © 2002 All Rights Reserved.