UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Harm reduction in hospitals: is it time? Rachlis, Beth Stephanie; Kerr, Thomas; Montaner, Julio S; Wood, Evan


Among persons who inject drugs (IDU), illicit drug use often occurs in hospitals and contributes to patient expulsion and/or high rates of leaving against medical advice (AMA) when withdrawal is inadequately managed. Resultant disruptions in medical care may increase the likelihood of several harms including drug resistance to antibiotics as well as costly readmissions and increased patient morbidity. In this context, there remains a clear need for the evaluation of harm reduction strategies versus abstinence-based strategies with respect to addressing ongoing issues related to substance use among addicted hospitalized patients. While hospitalization can be used to stabilize addicted patients as they recover from their acute illness and help them to achieve abstinence, patients unable to maintain abstinence should not be penalized for failing to do so at the expense of their health. This article describes harm reduction activities within hospitals and areas for future investigation.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)