Harm Reduction: A Strategy to Reduce the Toll of Substance Use in Missouri

photo of pills pouring from a bottlle

Harm reduction is a public health strategy that aims to reduce the negative consequences of substance use for individuals
and minimize social harms. The primary goals of harm reduction techniques are reducing infectious disease transmission,
improving public safety, providing supportive services and lifesaving medications, improving pathways to treatment, and
ultimately reducing substance use disorder (SUD) and overdose rates. Research has shown that harm reduction approaches
can result in reductions in morbidity and mortality associated with substance use if implemented comprehensively. Studies
also show that some harm reduction approaches provide other benefits, such as improved community safety and protection
for first responders. For states and localities combating the effects of substance use, harm reduction strategies are
increasingly utilized to reduce SUD and associated public health and safety ramifications. With Missouri’s recent investment
in medication-assisted treatment, additional techniques, such as syringe services programs could be implemented to
strengthen the overall harm reduction approach in the state.