In considering the best policy for dangerous drug use a friend referred me to the idea of minimizing harm.
Whilst harm minimisation remains a highly contested term (Wellbourne-Wood 1999), there does appear to be a core consensus around the following principles:Drug users would gain much from "education, drug substitution programs, needle-exchange programs, abstinence-oriented interventions aimed at reducing drug use, and interventions aimed at reducing the supply of illicit drugs"
Firstly, harm minimisation implies that drug use should be viewed as a public health, rather than a criminal or legal, issue. Drug users are entitled to be treated as normal citizens with the same rights and obligations as other members of the community (Single & Rohl 1997, p. 48).
Secondly, the harm minimisation approach is value neutral and accepts that illicit drugs are and will remain part of our society; that their elimination is impossible; and that further efforts to eliminate them may result in greater harm to society (Rumbold & Hamilton 1998, p. 135). Harm minimisation rejects the notion of drugs wars which inevitably become wars on drug users, rather than on drugs (Mendes 1999, p. 10).
Thirdly, whilst harm minimisation does not involve support for illicit drug use, governments acknowledge that where injecting drug user continues to occur, they have a responsibility to develop and implement public health and law enforcement measures designed to minimize the harm that such behaviours can cause, both to individuals and the community. These measures include education, drug substitution programs, needle-exchange programs, abstinence-oriented interventions aimed at
reducing drug use, and interventions aimed at reducing the supply of illicit drugs (National Drug Strategy Unit 1998, p. 17).
(Quoted from "Social Conservatism vs Harm Minimisation: John Howard on Illicit Drugs", Journal of Economic and Social Policy, 7 Jan 2001)
Charities and governments can offer these programs. It is important that we do not take them for granted. “The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.” (“That I Might Draw All Men unto Me”, Dale G. Renlund, Apr 2016)