Often used in the context of global health policy, harm reduction is an approach that attempts to reduce adverse health, social, and economic consequences. The way that we are thinking about harm reduction is to focus is on keeping people safe, and minimizing the negative consequences of when individuals engage in higher risk behaviours, such as using substances. There is no universal definition of or formula for implementing harm reduction, as it demands the consideration of the needs and unique circumstances of each individual, however, we consider the following principles central to our practice:
- Respect and non-judgmental understanding of each individual and "where they are at".
- Acceptance that substance use is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon.
- Empowerment of the individual as the primary agent of change.
- Compassion towards the realities of social isolation, past trauma, discrimination, and other social inequalities and vulnerabilities people face.
- Collaboration and open dialogue, sharing information and supporting individuals in developing and implementing strategies that are personally meaningful.