SMART Policy Briefs

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• Harm reduction is a policy philosophy aimed at minimizing negative health outcomes by embracing compassion and rejecting stigma. It is often described as “meeting people where they are.” • The core of harm reduction is acknowledging the lethality of modern drugs such as fentanyl. If you keep the person alive, you have a greater chance of getting them into long term recovery, even if that means tolerating their substance use for the moment. • Harm reduction does not mean condoning substance use, but it does mean withholding condemnation. • Tennessee already has a number of harm reduction policies in place, including increased naloxone availability, the Good Samaritan law, and syringe service programs (SSPs). These policies have already demonstrated a positive impact on overdose survivability, reduced transmission of infectious disease such as HIV, and increased entry into long term recovery. • Novel harm reduction strategies have been enacted in other parts of the United States, and are showing promising results for the fatal overdose rate

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