Harm reduction is a philosophy as well as an activist stance. It takes a sober, realistic look at human nature and keeping that in mind in a non-judgemental manner, works to save lives and lessen potential harm. Harm reduction tends to focus on typically perceived harmful behaviors such as drug use or unsafe sex.
Generally, when dealing with drug use, harm reduction involves a strong attempt to fully and honestly educate people. Harm reduction education is aimed at helping people understand something more about the drug they are considering using, such as whether it is a brand new research chemical with very little information on human long-term effects. These types of interventions aim to enable people to make informed decisions about issues such as whether or not to use, safe dosages, safe combinations, set and setting, etc.
Harm reduction tries via education attempts to place the encouragement to seek more information and to embrace practices of harm reduction right in the hands of the person practicing the behaviors themselves.
Harm reduction principles should be applied to oneself as well as to others. It can range from choosing not to drive while intoxicated to taking the keys away from a friend who threatens to do the same. Often it takes the form of education, such as telling someone it is dangerous to mix MDMA with an MAOI and/or encouraging them to further educate themselves. Sometimes it takes the form of direct interventions, such as a group of friends telling a close friend that his/her practice with a specific behavior is having negative effects on that person’s life and functioning as well as the friends themselves.
Never be afraid to speak up in a potential harm reduction situation. You could literally be risking a bit of personal discomfort in order to save a life. A real friend might be very irritable at first but eventually s/he will realize that you are trying to help. Meanwhile, by being a bit naggy you may save multiple lives (e.g. a drinking and driving situation).
The ultimate goal of harm reduction is to improve the life of the individual and the community in which he/she resides. It’s not about judgement. It’s about reality, human nature and education. It attempts to do what the endless billions spent on the “War on Drugs” continues to abjectly fail at accomplishing. And it works to accomplish its goals with caring, concern, appreciation for life and health as well as education. I, personally cannot think of a better way to try to lead ones life.