Harm Reduction in Connecticut

Harm reduction has evolved over time, from its initial identification in the 1980s. Harm reduction is a public health strategy that was developed initially for adults with substance abuse problems for whom abstinence was not feasible. In recent years, it has been successfully applied to sexual health education in an attempt to reduce both teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Harm reduction can be adequately described as a strategy directed toward individuals or groups that aims to reduce the harms associated with certain behaviors. (Source: NCBI)

  • Harm reduction designs & promotes evidence based public health interventions that minimize the harmful effects of drug use.
  • Harm reduction understands drug use as a complex, multi-faceted issue.
  • Harm reduction focuses on behavior – especially when related to housing, employment, parenting, and other relationships.
  • Harm reduction works to reduce stigma. Read about why language matters.

Harm reduction recognizes that drug use exists along a continuum and that abstinence can be one of many goals. It recognizes that people who use drugs are much more than their use, and that drug related harm cannot be assumed.

Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Over the past five years, there has been a sharp increase in opiate overdoses and opiate related overdose deaths.

In Connecticut, between 2009 and 2015, over 2,500 opiate involved overdoses occurred in all but 17 of Connecticut's cities and towns. In 2015 alone, there were 697 accidental and undetermined opiate involved overdose deaths, 639 of which occurred among CT residents. (Dr. Lauretta Grau, Yale; from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner)

The demographics are: 70% male, 84% white, mean age of 40 years, 70% pharmaceutical opioid involved, 82% occurred in a residence, and the data shows an increase in heroin involved deaths between 2012- 14.