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The Changing Face of Harm Reduction

Harm reduction has historically been thought of in relation to drug use and originally gained traction as a movement during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, where needle exchange programs were shown to reduce the transmission of the virus without necessarily reducing the level of injection drug use. Grassroots activism and an openness to the accounts of drug users caused the harm reduction movement to grow during the so-called “War on Drugs” and the opioid crisis in the US. Later, harm reductionists took aim at tobacco and alcohol. All these topics have been covered extensively by the Harm Reduction Journal since our founding in 2004.

It has become clear that the harm reduction philosophy should be applied to other types of public health issue where ineffective policies cause excessive harm to vulnerable populations. This collection seeks to compile Harm Reduction Journal’s best content on these new frontiers and encourage further discussion. All submissions will be reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief or Deputy Editor for their suitability to this collection and will then be assigned to the relevant Section Editor for review. Articles that do not fall into the sections outlined below are still encouraged and will be handled and included at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief.

For more information on how articles on emerging topics will be handled by the journal, take a look at our Editorial Board or Contact Us for more information.

Edited by:
Prof. Nick Crofts, AM, MB, MPH, FAFPHM, University of Melbourne, Australia, Editor-in-Chief

Image credit: © Jo Panuwat D /

  1. The meaningful inclusion of young people who use or have used drugs is a fundamental aspect of harm reduction, including in program design, research, service provision, and advocacy efforts. However, there are...

    Authors: M-J Stowe, Orsi Feher, Beatrix Vas, Sangeet Kayastha and Alissa Greer
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2022 19:83
  2. Vancouver, Canada, and Lisbon, Portugal, are both celebrated for their world-leading harm reduction policies and programs and regarded as models for other cities contending with the effects of increasing level...

    Authors: Joana Canêdo, Kali-olt Sedgemore, Kelly Ebbert, Haleigh Anderson, Rainbow Dykeman, Katey Kincaid, Claudia Dias, Diana Silva, Reith Charlesworth, Rod Knight and Danya Fast
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2022 19:43
  3. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is increasingly standard practice for critical qualitative health research with young people who use(d) drugs in Vancouver, Canada. One aim of CBPR in this context...

    Authors: Madison Thulien, Haleigh Anderson, Shane Douglas, Rainbow Dykeman, Amanda Horne, Ben Howard, Kali Sedgemore, Reith Charlesworth and Danya Fast
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2022 19:30
  4. The use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) and associated image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs) is now a global phenomenon. There is a need to develop evidence to support the development of interven...

    Authors: Jim McVeigh, Evelyn Hearne, Ian Boardley, Geoff Bates, Vivian Hope, Rob Ralphs and Marie Claire Van Hout
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2021 18:107
  5. We estimate the prevalence of drug injection, the variables associated with having ever injected and the proportion of ever injectors whose first drug injection was for having sex; we describe the first drug i...

    Authors: Juan-Miguel Guerras, Patricia García de Olalla, María José Belza, Luis de la Fuente, David Palma, Jorge del Romero, Jorge-Néstor García-Pérez and Juan Hoyos
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2021 18:86
  6. A primary consequence of illicit drug markets and the absence of regulation is the variable quality or purity of the final product. Analysis of anabolic-androgenic steroid seizures shows that these products ca...

    Authors: Evelyn Frude, Fiona H. McKay and Matthew Dunn
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2020 17:42
  7. Psychedelic microdosing is the trending practice of using tiny repeated doses of psychedelic substances to facilitate a range of supposed benefits. With only a few published studies to date, the subject is sti...

    Authors: Martin Andersson and Anette Kjellgren
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2019 16:63
  8. There is good evidence to suggest that performance and image enhancing drug (PIED) use is increasing in Australia and that there is an increase in those using PIEDs who have never used another illicit substanc...

    Authors: Boden Tighe, Matthew Dunn, Fiona H. McKay and Timothy Piatkowski
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2017 14:48
  9. Recent exposes of drug use in sports suggest that doping might be more problematic than doping-control test results reveal. A zero-tolerance (ZT) model, which aims to eliminate the use, has dominated the think...

    Authors: Aaron C. T. Smith and Bob Stewart
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2015 12:53
  10. The current anti-doping policy (‘war on doping’) resembles the ‘war on drugs’ in several aspects, including a zero-tolerance approach, ideology encroaching on human rights and public health principles, high co...

    Authors: Bengt Kayser and Barbara Broers
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2012 9:33

About the collection

Public health is presented with a range of new challenges in emerging areas of importance and the success of the harm reductionist approach has encouraged research into other areas. As the sole public health journal that focuses exclusively on the harm reduction philosophy, Harm Reduction Journal is acutely aware of how the field is changing and is keen to encourage further growth. The internet, human enhancement, gambling, road trauma and sex work are all key areas where we hope to see more articles. Further to this, we are looking to elevate the voices of young people and AYAs, peers and people who use(d) drugs, those involved with the justice system, under-represented and vulnerable populations, and countries in the Global South (where harm reductionism has historically been less applied). Lastly, we are seeking broader perspectives on decriminalization and how this contributes to harm or harmful behaviours.

We have compiled some of the most impactful research from our open access archive to showcase these emerging themes and encourage further submissions. Our Section Editors are actively soliciting articles and would welcome any correspondence from potential authors looking to submit.

Following an initial assessment by the Editor-in-Chief or Deputy Editor, each manuscript will be assigned to the relevant Section Editor for review.

Section Editors for Drugs and the Internet
Angus Bancroft: University of Edinburgh, UK
Aleksey Lakhov: Humanitarian Action, Russia

Section Editor for Human Enhancement Drugs
James McVeigh: Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Section Editor for Youth, Drugs and Harm Reduction
Danya Fast: University of British Columbia, Canada
Florian Scheibein: South East Technological University, Ireland

Section Editor for Gambling Harm Reduction
Michael Egerer University of Helsinki, Finland

Other suitable papers on emerging public health issues will be handled by the Editor-in-Chief or a relevant Associate Editor.

Submission Guidelines

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Relevant submissions will be considered for inclusion in this collection at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief. Before submitting your manuscript, please ensure you have read our submission guidelines and include a brief statement in your cover letter that describes your rationale for being included in any section. If you have questions regarding your manuscript suitability, please contact our editorial office and we will direct you to the relevant editor. 

Submission enquiries: 
General enquiries:

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies

The Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer review process. The peer review of any submissions for which the Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.