Accessing Care

Harm Reduction

What is harm reduction?

Harm reduction is a public health strategy grounded in justice and human rights to decrease the adverse effects of drug and alcohol consumption. It encourages positive change and working with individuals without bias, coercion, or discrimination. While some substance users may not require or want treatment, it is beneficial to be aware of resources that can help them decrease the harm caused by drug use.. Harm reduction may include safer use, managed use, abstinence, meeting people who use drugs “where they’re at,” and addressing conditions of use along with the use itself. Harm reduction approaches have been effective in reducing morbidity and mortality. 

Sources: Harm Reduction International, SAMHSA Harm Reduction, HarmReduction.Org

What does harm reduction include?

Harm reduction strategies can include:

  • Free syringe service programs
  • Medication lock boxes
  • Non-judgemental education and information
  • Overdose prevention sites
  • Overdose reversal education and training services
  • Overdose reversal supplies, including naloxone kits
  • Sharps disposal and medication disposal kits
  • Substance test kits, including fentanyl test strips
  • Wound care supplies

Where can Brown community members access harm reduction resources?

BWell Health Promotion offers in-person Overdose Education and Prevention trainings that educate participants about the opioid crisis in the U.S and Rhode Island, including statistical data provided by Prevent Overdose RI, how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose, and how to administer the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone. Participants receive a harm reduction kit that includes naloxone and fentanyl test strips.  These trainings are offered monthly during the academic year. Brown students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend. Trainings are announced on Today@Brown and on BWell’s social media pages. For more information about the trainings click here.

Can't attend a training? Prevent Overdose Rhode Island provides information on where to get fentanyl strips, naloxone, or access a harm reduction site in Rhode Island. 

Brown University Emergency Medical Services offers CPR and First Aid courses a few times per month, or upon request for a group of five or more students.

AdvanceBoxes are located throughout the University. AdvanceBoxes include AEDs and Naloxone, the life-saving medication. As of November 2022, 10 AdvanceBoxes have been installed.


What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a medicine that can be administered to someone experiencing an opioid overdose to temporarily restore breathing until medical attention can be sought. It is an opioid antagonist, which means that it attaches to receptors in the body to block the effects of opioids for between 30-90 minutes. Naloxone can be administered via intramuscular injection or nasal spray. Naloxone has no effect on people who do not have opioids in their system, and it is not used to treat opioid use disorder. Opioids include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. 

For more information please visit National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse, SAMHSA Naloxone, Prevent Overdose RI

What are fentanyl test strips?

Fentanyl test strips (FTS) are a form of drug testing technology that can aid in the prevention of overdoses and the reduction of harm. FTS are small strips of paper that have been shown to detect the presence of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in drug samples prior to ingestion. People can choose to implement strategies to reduce the risk of overdose based on the results of the test strips. For more information please visit Prevent Overdose RI.

Sources: Prevent Overdose RI, CDC Fentanyl Test Strips

Does harm reduction encourage drug use?

Harm reduction does not advocate or encourage drug use. It does empower people to make informed and healthier decisions for themselves. When integrated with other health and social services, it is effective at reducing some of the risks associated with drug use.

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