Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction Tips

Harm reduction recognizes that there will always be a percentage of the population who will engage in higher risk behavior, for a range of social, economic, mental health and personal reasons.


People who inject drugs can take the following steps to protect and reduce harm to themselves and others-

  • Practice safer sex to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Know, as much as you can, where your drugs are coming from, this will help you understand the strength to expect, what it may be mixed with, and the possible toxicity.
  • Reduce the amount of drugs consumed.
  • Avoid using drugs alone.
  • Use a different vein every time to inject.
  • Always use a new, rigs and fresh water, spoons, cotton.
  • Always cook your drugs—you will not lose any drug if brought to a quick boil, all this does is kill off possibly harmful bacteria. Think of how street opiates and other drugs are transported and how unsanitary that can be.
  • Use needle and syringe exchange programs.
  • Dispose of used needles in sharps containers or another thick walled container with lid.
  • Learn CPR and other first aid strategies.
  • Consider an opiate substitute such as Suboxone or Methadone, this is a personal choice and may not be the right choice for everyone.
  • Carry Naloxone to help reverse an opiate overdose.
  • Access your local syringe access/exchange program for a continuum of harm reduction services.

Suboxone Maintenance

  • For some, Suboxone can be a great option for starting a life without the need for opiates and can help to stop the effects of withdraw. This drug contains Buprenorphine and Naloxone and works by blocking the receptors in the brain to which opiates attach. By blocking these receptors cravings for opiates subside and symptoms normally associated with opiate withdraw do not occur. The Cincinnati area has several Suboxone providers (listed below) that help with prescribing and maintaining this type of opiate substitute.

Methadone Maintenance

  • Methadone can be prescribed for people who are trying to deal with an addiction to opioids. It is a medication that is taken orally, helping to reduce or eliminate the need to inject heroine. When properly prescribed, people have reduced cravings or withdrawal. People taking methadone can function just the same as anybody else. Tolerance to methadone develops very slowly, so people can usually stay on the same dose for a long time. It is medically safe to take long term, even for many years. Methadone treatment helps people take control over their addiction.


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