The core aim of The Drop is to reduce drug-related harm in Bristol’s night time economy - but how should we achieve that? The UK’s drugs laws and strategy are geared towards preventing the use of drugs and getting those who become addicted to drugs (including alcohol) into treatment but many people don’t want to stop using drugs and won’t ever become addicted. These people still need advice and support to prevent other harms such as overdose and negative impacts on mental health. This is where ‘harm reduction’ comes in.

Harm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim to minimise negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws. Harm reduction is grounded in justice and human rights - it focuses on positive change and on working with people without judgement, coercion, discrimination, or requiring that they stop using drugs as a precondition of support.

- Harm Reduction International.

Harm reduction accepts that humans have chosen to use mind altering substances, either ritualistically or recreationally, for millennia and that attempts to ban such behaviours have not stopped people from partaking. In many ways, banning substances has only led to them being pushed underground and made all the more harmful.

The principles of harm reduction allow us to engage with the realities of people’s drug use and provide the necessary advice and support they want, rather than what we think they need. A commitment to evidence-based practice is another key feature of harm reduction, meaning that the advice we give is supported by science, rather than being guided by moralism and the idea that ‘all drug use is bad’. Most importantly, harm reduction equips people who use drugs with the information they need to make informed decisions about their own use.

Some examples of harm reduction interventions that The Drop provide are confidential advice and support around safer drug use at events (eg. advice on which drugs are dangerous to take together, and safer routes of administration), drug awareness training for club and festival staff so they know how to manage drug use at their events and one to one support for anyone who would like to know more about drugs or gain some control over their use.

Please contact us at [email protected], on our socials (thedrop_bdp) or by phone on 0117 987 6000 for advice and support, or just to find out a bit more about the service.

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To find out more about club drugs and how you can reduce the harm they cause, browse The Drop section of our website.

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