Harm reduction is the right way to treat drug abuse

Europe should re-embrace an approach it pioneered
The Economist (UK)
Saturday, November 24, 2018

Portugal’s policies are based on “harm reduction” approaches pioneered in countries such as Switzerland in the 1980s. The idea is to emphasise treatment and prevention more than punishment, says Brendan Hughes of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Most European countries now have some form of harm-reduction policy, though the east is more conservative. Some countries take things further. Many have safe injection rooms, supervised by medical professionals who check the drugs for safety. In Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, addicts who repeatedly fail methadone programmes may even receive free, government-prescribed heroin. “Heroin-assisted treatment” has been shown to reduce crime and deaths.