The Psychology of Harm Reduction

Comparing Alternative Strategies for Modifying High-Risk Behaviors

by Robert J. MacCoun

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American drug policy focuses on "prevalence reduction," which aims to reduce or eliminate psychoactive drug use. A movement called "harm reduction" emerged during the 1980s as a strategy for dealing with harms unmitigated by traditional approaches. Harm reduction focuses on minimizing the adverse consequences of drug use through interventions such as needle exchange, "safe use" education, and the use of treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

Originally published in: The 1996 Wellness Lectures, 1996, pp. 5-27.

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