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Harm reduction

There are ways to minimise the harm of drugs misuse, such as needle exchanges

Harm reduction services do not promote drug use, but can minimise harm to individuals who are misusing drugs until they reach a point where they can give up their use.

In Scotland harm reduction services aim to reduce the high levels of drug-related deaths and the spread of blood borne viruses.

Harm reduction services provide:

  • Sterile injecting equipment - vital in preventing blood borne virus transmission amongst injecting drug users;
  • Advice and information on safer injecting;
  • Wound care and advice;
  • Facilities for safe disposal of used equipment;
  • Access to confidential hepatitis B, C and HIV testing;
  • Referral to other health services.

The Scottish Drug Services Directory lists needle exchange and harm reduction services.

Overdose is taking so much of a drug or combination of drugs that the body can’t handle it. It is what many family members fear most. 

Naloxone is an opiate (heroin and methadone) antidote which can temporarily reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. Naloxone provides more time for an ambulance to arrive and professional treatment to be administered.

Young people can benefit from credible information about drugs that helps them make informed choices. The Know the Score website has useful information for young people.