At its core, harm reduction acknowledges that while improper use of substances carries a level of risk there are ways of reducing the likelihood that harm will occur. Our adoption of a policy of harm reduction is not intended to signal that substance use is safe, but to recognise that there are behaviours which actively increase the risk of harm. Instead, a policy of harm reduction recognises that education about these dangers and the availability of support can make it safer. It demonstrates a willingness to protect the health and wellbeing of all our students, not only those always making the safest choices.
Harm reduction refers to policies, programmes, and practices that aim to minimise negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws. It is grounded in justice and human rights - it focuses on positive change and on working with people without judgement, coercion, discrimination, or requiring that they stop using drugs as a precondition of support. It can be contrasted with primary prevention which tries to prevent people using drugs in the first place, or to stop them using once they’ve started.