Recent developments and future challenges
Harm reduction (HR) has been a pillar of drug policy in the Netherlands for many decades. In fact, the Netherlands was a pioneer in the field of HR. Like many other Western countries, the Netherlands was hit by a wave of heroin use in the 1970s. The Dutch adopted HR programs early on at the height of their heroin crisis in the 1980s, and implemented the first needle and syringe exchange program worldwide. HR seeks to reduce the health and social harms of drug use to individuals and the wider community, without requiring people to stop using drugs (EMCDDA, 2010). It is a client-centered and low-threshold approach that allows users to engage with medical and social services in a non-judgmental way and provides opportunities for referral to further care.
Also available in Dutch: Recente inzichten in harm reduction voorzieningen in Nederland