Harm Reduction Journal is calling for submissions to our Collection on Harm Reduction in Europe: Histories, Choices and Hopes. This special series aims to start a multi-stakeholder and multi-perspective dialogue on the evolution and prospective future of harm reduction in Europe. Our main goal with this thematic issue is to provide a comprehensive and insightful look into the journey of harm reduction across the diverse regions of Europe, examining the changes, challenges, and innovations along the way. We are looking for both primary research articles and thoughtful commentaries that tackle harm reduction from a time-based perspective, digging into its past, understanding its present, and imagining its future.
Harm Reduction in Europe: The Past, Present, and Future
Europe has seen a wide variety of harm reduction strategies over the years. From needle exchange programs aimed at reducing the spread of HIV among people who use drugs, to supervised consumption rooms that provide a safer space for substance use, the continent has been at the forefront of innovative harm reduction policies. However, these approaches have not been without controversy and have evolved significantly over time.
As we reflect on the history and practices of harm reduction in Europe, we see a tapestry of different models, policies, and paradigms. The past few decades have witnessed a shift from punitive drug policies, which criminalize drug use, to more compassionate, health-focused approaches. Further, the mainstream harm reduction paradigm has seen an evolution from a health focus, with prioritized professional-led prevention of infectious diseases, towards a more holistic and autonomous view of an individual, and community-led, grassroots initiatives proliferating in recent years. Yet, the journey has been complex and uneven, with different regions adopting harm reduction at different paces and to varying extents.
In the present day, harm reduction in Europe stands at a crucial juncture. While significant progress has been made, challenges remain, including the ongoing stigma faced by people who use drugs, the need for greater and more equitable access to harm reduction services, especially for specific vulnerable groups, and chronic precarity of funding, both in terms of instability and insufficient resources.
Looking ahead, we are interested in exploring innovative and creative visions for the future of harm reduction in Europe. How can we build on the lessons of the past and present to create a more inclusive, effective, and compassionate approach to drug use? How can we ensure that harm reduction services are accessible to all who need them, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status?
Seeking Diverse Voices and Perspectives
We are eager to hear from a wide range of contributors – from academics and researchers to service providers and community members, particularly those with living and lived experience of drug use. We believe that a diverse range of perspectives is crucial to creating a comprehensive understanding of harm reduction’s journey in Europe.
Your submissions should critically engage with harm reduction in Europe, examining its evolution over time and offering thoughtful reflections on its future. We are particularly interested in papers that challenge established narratives, offer new insights, and propose innovative solutions.