top of page
Prescription Medication

Harm Reduction

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

Some Principles of Harm Reduction:

1. Accepts, for better or worse, that licit and illicit drug use is part of our world and chooses to work to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them

​2. Calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm​

​3. Recognizes that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination, and other social inequalities affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug-related harm​

​4. Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger that can be associated with illicit drug use

What is Harm Reduction?

"Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs."

-National Harm Reduction Coalition 

Examples of Harm Reduction:

  • -Overdose Prevention

  • -Syringe exchange

  • -Disease testing

  • -Disposal containers

  • -NARCAN/Naloxone training

  • -Referral to treatment + resources 

When calling 911 services, say:

**Give Location**

"We have a person down. They are not breathing. Suspect an overdose."​


This will activate the Good Samaritan Law​ and your protections

California’s 911 Good Samaritan Law


provides limited protection from arrest, charge and prosecution for people who seek emergency medical assistance at the scene of a suspected drug overdose.

Do NOT interfere with first responders.

Step Back.

You will be risking your Good Samaritan Law protections otherwise

Read the Good Samaritan Law on the California Legislature's website here: 

Witnesses are protected even if they...


  • Are under the influence of drugs 

  • In possession of small amounts of drugs 

  • In possession of drug paraphernalia 




What is Stigma?

"A strong feeling of disapproval that most people in a society have about something, especially when this is unfair" 

Cambridge Dictionary

"An attribute, behavior, or reputation that is socially discrediting, and substance-related problems appear to be particularly susceptible to stigma." 

International Journal on Drug Policy

Stigma Impacts Recovery: 

  • Reduces willingness to seek professional support: 

    • Fear of being looked down upon, stereotyped, etc. 

  • Causes reluctance + aversion to attend treatment 

  • Limits access to healthcare, housing, aftercare, community support, + employment

  • MORE than just Stereotyping 

    • Ideas and attitudes that generalize and label groups 

  • MORE than just Prejudice 

    • Endorsing and promoting harmful beliefs within stereotypes 

  • MORE than just Discrimination 

    • Practices and behaviors that promote inequity toward labeled groups

Impacts on Stigmatized Populations:

  • Increase in adverse outcomes 

  • Diminished self-esteem 

  • Affects personal relationships at a time they are needed the most

  • Increases involvement in risky behaviors

Stigma on 3 levels 

  1. Structural: laws, regulations, politics

    • EX: State health agency boards who make decisions, polices, and laws with no representation of individuals with lived experience 

  2. Public: attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals and groups 

    • EX: Neighborhood perspectives regarding the presence of drug activity

  3. Self-Stigma: internalized negative stereotypes

    • EX: Believing that you’re not worth treatment


Signs of Overdose

“Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.”

Eyes Closed

Are they High or Overdosing (on opioids?)​

A. Are they responsive?

B. Are they breathing?

If yes to both, they’re just high.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”

  • Falling asleep or losing consciousness

  • Slow, weak, or no breathing

  • Choking or gurgling sounds

  • Limp body

  • Cold and/or clammy skin

  • Discolored skin (especially lips & nails)

    • Caucasian: Blue/Purple

    • BIPOC: Grey-ish 

bottom of page