In recent years, a number of countries have embraced harm reduction as their principal philosophical stance and policy platform on alcohol and other drug-related problems. Harm reduction, while argued by some as not being a new concept, has dramatically changed the overall orientation of many health and human service approaches. We argue that as a result many important considerations have been overlooked. This paper explores the merits of harm reduction and examines the limitations and potential pitfalls that may exist in its application in the real world. For instance, where do we position non-drug-use? Such questions are raised in light of the impression perpetuated by same leading practitioners in this field that harm reduction is a global panacea for alcohol and drug problems. Without exploring all possible paths, progress toward our holy grail of minimising the harms and maximising the potential benefits of drug use will be hampered. An integrated model is discussed, which we believe provides an opportunity for wider acceptance and ownership by alcohol and drug stakeholders, politicians and the community.
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|Published - Sept 1997