Friday, August 05, 2005

Harm Reduction or Harm Condoning?

In social work/health fields there is this concept called "harm reduction". It's basic tenets are that problems are in our world, and we can't completely get rid of them so instead of preaching abstinence or working to stop the problem completely they try to reduce the harm those problems have on people and societies. A direct quote from the Harm Reduction Coalition, which focuses on drug use, is as follows:

"Accepts, for better and for 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."

I'm not sure where I stand on this, as of yet, but I have some serious holdups, like, for example, aren't you in some way condoning the sin when you give out clean needles for drug use, or condoms for extramarital sex? Isn't it a bad sort of communication when you hand out a needle for a "more safe" hit while informing them of the repercussions of drug use?

Discussion, please.


Nathan said...

After pondering the question posed by your post I have concluded this: By removing the more immediate dangerous consequences of drug abuse, needle exchange programs promote the continued use of drugs, which in turn allows for more long term effects upon the drug users. Longer living drug users means their contribution to society will be lessened by the money invested in keeping them using drugs as well as their personal income being spent on drugs.

Economically it doesn't make sense. I'm not sure about the personal or social aspects.

Anonymous said...

well, nathan's comment has me rethinking your post. i thought, and still think, i conclude, that your question was one of morals, not societal implications.

i think nathan has made clear for us why 'harm reduction' is immoral. it is all about pragmatism. God's standards, and thus true morals, have never been about the end result. you don't refrain from murder, deception, or extramarital sex (which we all hopefully do... but don't) b/c of the guilt it brings or the harm it causes to yourself or others; rather, you do not do so b/c of the IMMORALITY of the act. God said it was wrong, so it is a sin, a slap in the face of his perfection.

likewise, while we do concern ourselves with how sex epidemics will scar our nations, or how they will injustly and heartbreakingly ruin the lives of our children, we don't do so at the expense of compromising our morals and the demands of our true Judge, the Creator of right and wrong. and to hand out free condoms and encourage 'safe sex', even with an attitude of "well if you must, at least be careful", is to condone the action. pragmatism has no place in this facet; we must condemn the act as God would. his morals will not be less transgressed if you have attempted to erase the consequences of your sin. if anything, i would think the opposite.

and of course, this example applies to drugs and any other topic as well.


Nathan said...

In response to :::K:::

I would agree with you on the basis for which we must conclude that promoting illicit drug use is wrong. I would also agree with you that attempting to deal with the symptoms and not the cause is futile. That is exactly what I was thinking when I wrote my comment.