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Home > A review of harm reduction approaches in Ireland and evidence from the international literature.

Dublin City University, National Advisory Committee on Drugs. McCarthy, Patricia and Philbin, Mark and Moore, Gerard and MacNeela, Padraig and MacGabhann, Liam and Proudfoot, Denise (2004) A review of harm reduction approaches in Ireland and evidence from the international literature. Dublin: Stationery Office.

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This report examines international literature on harm reduction and also presents primary research in health services in Ireland on approaches to harm reduction. The aim of harm reduction efforts is to minimise the risks stemming from shared use of drug-use paraphernalia, such as needle exchange programmes. One of the criticisms of Irish drug services is that the restricted opening hours and limited number of exchange services may contribute to continued sharing of needles among drug users.

The report points out that other non-injecting paraphernalia such as spoons are also associated with the risk of contracting diseases, yet services do not as yet focus on them. The report notes that specific risk factors that contribute to risky drug practices include youth, a shorter injecting history, confinement to prison, homelessness and being involved in a sexual relationship with another intravenous drug user. The report suggests that harm reduction practices can be introduced into a prison population without a subsequent increase in drug consumption rates. The provision of consumption rooms and the prescription of heroin are also discussed, with the report noting that legislation would have to altered to implement these new strategies.


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