March 26, 2017

Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction definition

The aim of the National Drug Strategy 2016-2025 is:

To contribute to ensuring safe, healthy and resilient Australian communities through minimising alcohol, tobacco and other drug-related health, social and economic harms among individuals, families and communities. (National Drug strategy, 2015)

1.2 Harm Minimisation Approach

Australia’s long standing harm minimisation approach has consistently addressed alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues to prevent or reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and other drug use. This approach considers the health, social and economic consequences of drug use on both the individual and the community as a whole and is based on the following considerations:

  • Use of drugs, whether licit or illicit, is a part of society, (National Drug strategy, 2015)
  • Drug use occurs across a continuum, from occasional use to dependent use,
  • A range of harms are associated with different types and patterns of drug use,
  • Response to these harms can use a range of methodologies.

This approach reduces total harm due to alcohol, tobacco and other drug use through coordinated, multi-agency responses that address the three pillars of harm minimisation. These pillars are demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction. Strategies to minimise the harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drug use should be coordinated and balanced across the three pillars (National Drug strategy, 2015).

1.2.1 Three pillars of Harm Minimisation

Demand Reduction

Demand reduction includes strategies and actions that prevent the uptake of drug use, delay the first use of drugs, and reduce the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in the community. It also includes supporting people to recover from dependence and enhance their integration with the community (National Drug strategy, 2015).

Supply Reduction

Supply reduction includes strategies and actions that prevent, stop, disrupt or otherwise reduce the production and supply of illicit drugs; and control, manage or regulate the supply of alcohol, tobacco and other licit drugs (National Drug strategy, 2015).

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction strategies aim to reduce the negative outcomes from alcohol, tobacco and other drug use when it is occurring by encouraging safer behaviours, creating supportive environments and reducing preventable risk factors (National Drug strategy, 2015).


Intergovernmental committee on drugs, National drug strategy (2016-2025). Australian Government draft national drug strategy 2016-2025 Retrieved 6, February 2016 from: