Harm reduction is a theory and practice that aims to reduce the level of harm (for oneself and for a larger community) that can be associated with unmanaged behavioral illness, including drug use. Rather than demanding abstinence, harm reduction focuses on opportunities to incrementally change behaviors that cause harm to oneself or others. This principle is fundamental to the LEAD model. Harm reduction has an additional meaning for LEAD: reducing systemic harm. LEAD was developed specifically to recognize, illuminate, and reduce the harms caused by the criminal legal system, by other public systems, and by systemic and institutionalized racism.
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