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What is Harm Reduction?
"Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs."
-National Coalition of Harm Reduction
"Harm Reduction is Love"
The 4 Pillars & Evidence-Based Best Practices
The Four Pillars approach is recognized internationally as an effective way to address the harms associated with substance use:
Law Enforcement reform
Harm Reduction tactics
Countries who have implemented these measures, including Switzerland and Portugal, have experienced a significant reduction of the spread of preventable chronic disease burden, overdose hospitalizations and overdose deaths. This forms a balanced, solid foundation on which to build a comprehensive & effective community drug strategy.
Prevention reduces drug consumption by stopping the next generation from developing unhealthy addictions and unsafe behaviors when using drugs. This means public education, addiction awareness, early addiction identification and more to protect our children and vulnerable populations.
Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) and counseling services can help people who are ready to stop using drugs. MAT programs utilize methadone or buprenorphine to wean on opioids and curb the negative effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Counseling and other out-patient treatment also provide support to maintain sobriety after the physical addiction has been curbed.
Law Enforcement Reform
Decriminalizing drugs stops the vicious cycle of recidivism and connects vulnerable people to help instead of punishment.
Harm reduction techniques and tactics include:
Public overdose education
Providing access to counseling and referrals for treatment for infectious disease and substance use disorder
Distribution of Naloxone, an overdose reversal medication to at-risk individuals and first responders
Distribution of safe(r) smoking, injection and sex supplies to decrease the spread of preventable diseases such as Hepatitis, HIV and more.
Reducing stigma associated with substance use and mental health
Promote hope and healing for individuals and families impacted by drug use
But is what On Point doing legal in California?
Yes! According to the CA Health & Safety code 121349.1 (a):
"The Legislature finds and declares that scientific data from needle exchange programs in the United States and in Europe have shown that the exchange of used hypodermic needles and syringes for clean hypodermic needles and syringes does not increase drug use in the population, can serve as an important bridge to treatment and recovery from drug abuse, and can curtail the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among the intravenous drug user population" (Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 480, Sec. 1. (AB 1344) Effective January 1, 2022.)
Furthermore, CA Health & Safety code 11364 allows the possession of drug paraphernalia until January 1, 2026 as part of public health measures. This means you cannot be arrested for possessing supplies we provide to you. For more information on the laws regarding syringe & naloxone distribution, visit our "Know Your Rights" page.
More information on Syringe Service Programs: Impacts, Efficacy & more
Syringe Service Program Resource & Information
CDC's Summary of Information on The Safety and Effectiveness of Syringe Services Programs (SSPs)
Biden's National Drug Strategy Control - Harm Reduction pg 30
A comparison of syringe disposal practices among injection drug users in a city with versus a city without a needle and syringe program-tookes, 2012
Assessing a drop box programme, a spatial analysis of discarded needles-Montigy, 2010
Higher syringe coverage is associated with lower odds of HIV risk and does not increase unsafe syringe disposal among syringe exchange program
Syringe disposal among pwid in Los Angeles, the role of sterile syringe source-Quinn, 2014
Syringe disposal among pwid before and after the implementation of a syringe services program-Levine, 2019
Safe syringe disposal is related to safe syringe access among HIV-positive IDUs-Coffin, 2007
More about Opioids
California Opioid Overdose Dashboard
CDC Opioid Basic Facts
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