Full Spectrum Harm Reduction
Full-spectrum harm reduction is a model with an innovative approach to the philosophical framework that harm reduction provides. It aims to go further and expand on the traditionally accepted, but rather limited, pillars of harm reduction, which have been historically focused on people who inject drugs, opiates, HIV, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. This approach has largely focussed on people who inject drugs, leaving people who use drugs by other routes without well-developed and formalised harm reduction strategies.
Non-injected harm reduction strategies have been flourishing for many years now in Latin America and other regions of the world, where patterns of drug use, market trends and ground realities are different than the one we see in many of the countries in the Northern hemisphere, where traditional harm reduction comes from, but that holds the same principles and objectives, to reduce and minimize harm and unwanted consequences arising from drug use and the many practices that surround it.
Organized crime, drug cartels, normalized violence and human rights violations are focalized in producing and transit countries, and from our perspective the harms they produce to our societies and families are also linked to the whole web of threads that surrounds psychoactive substances, their production, their use and the illicit trade. Separating substance and use from the political context of the person and the elements that are determined by the global prohibitionist system is counterproductive and inefficient.
Introducing the same principles behind the needle and syringe programs (NSP). The opiate substitution treat
ment (OST), the safer consumption rooms, the peer counseling and inclusive collaborative models that have been developed through the harm reduction focus but to other means of administration of illicit psychoactive substances such as smoked stimulants or snorted research chemicals, that includes in its scope the vast majority of people who use drugs and that are traditionally labeled as “recreational” drug users, has a bigger and better impact on the social constructs that determine much of the stigma, discrimination and inhumane situations that people who use drugs have to face because of the taboo and the war on the drugs.
If we want to really reduce the harms that the war on drugs is causing in a much greater way than all of the different substances and people using them out there, it is crucial to keep an eye on the link between the many impacts we can see in the social, economic, political, individual levels and the prohibitionist drug policies that fuel an economy of war and terror while criminalizing and rejecting people who use drugs, thus generating a very hostile social environment where the complex phenomena of using drugs becomes much more dangerous and cold, the extreme cases being unofficial executions, forced disappearance, torture and so on justified by this zero-tolerance policies.
Introducing these elements as part of the harm reduction perspective “from the global South” has proved to be very effective and opens the door to climb further to a totally inclusive harm reduction model that is able to address any and every situation where there’s potential risks or harms related to drugs or drug use and the public policies that pretend to regulate that in this globalized scenario that has infinite diversity and complexity and that any fixed structure or model falls short to interact with it in any effective way.
Full-spectrum harm reduction means including all of the different substances, all of the different ways of using them, all of the different social, cultural, historical and political implications that surround that practice into one same model that aims to reduce the risks and potential harms of each of the substance or any possible situation that happenes. We need to be able to talk openly and honestly about it, without stigmatizing people, without criminalizing because of lack of understanding and looking to empower people and liberty through responsible, evidence based and rights based resources, information, support and education.
Hep C Prevention/Counselling/Treatment
Drug policy training
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Education
ATS Tailored services
Smoked-cocaine tailored services
Harm reduction consumption kits – snorting, pipes, rubber bands, lip balm, nose lube, etc.
Psychedelic crisis intervention (‘trip sitting’)
Overdose Prevention – Opiates and Stimulants (NPS)
Access to health services
Human rights protection
Innovative treatment and services
Adolescents who use drugs
Self-determination and self-representation
Human sustainability (regulated markets)