About harm minimisation
Distance learners

About harm minimisation

Harm minimisation aims to reduce the harmful health, social and economic consequences of alcohol and other drugs on individuals and society.

Harm minimisation strategies can be categorised into three areas:
  • Harm reduction - strategies that aim to reduce the harm from drugs for both individuals and communities. These strategies do not necessarily aim to stop drug use. Examples include needle syringe services, methadone maintenance, brief interventions, peer education and education for safer drug use.

  • Supply reduction - strategies aimed at reducing the production and supply of illicit drugs. Examples include legislation and law enforcement

  • Demand reduction - strategies aimed at preventing the uptake of harmful drug use. Examples include community development projects and media campaigns.
In this module the emphasis has been on harm reduction strategies as we are focusing on working with intoxicated young people.

Refer again to Topic 2 and review the environment factors that you identified that influence the experience of intoxication. The youth-focused systems model will help you to reflect on the large number of factors that make up the 'environment' of a young person.

Question - What factors in the environment increase the harm for the intoxicated young people that you work with? In what other ways does the environment impact on drug use by young people? Consider, for example, the lack of recreational activities for young people on weekends and evenings, and inadequate public transport resulting in young people driving under the influence of drugs.

Question - What harm minimisation strategies, if any, does your agency use that impact on these environmental factors? As mentioned above, harm minimisation strategies are very varied. Examples range from one-toone education on how to reduce risky behaviour when intoxicated to community action to develop services and activities for young people.

Question - Research the harm minimisation strategies or services that other agencies in your area are using to target the environment factors relating to intoxicated young people.
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  • Brief interventions are usually conducted one-to-one. They provide an opportunity to raise awareness and share knowledge with a young person. Brief interventions can help to reduce potential harm.

  • Harm minimisation is an approach to reduce the harmful health, social and economic consequences of alcohol and other drug use on individuals and society.

Distance learners

(A good point for student to contact facilitator.)

Distance learners should take time now to reflect on their learning, check in with their facilitator and determine their progress.