Until now, reducing the impact of drugs on a community has tended to rely on three main strategies:
1. Reducing the use of drugs (demand reduction, e.g. drug treatment and prevention).
2. Reducing the harms associated with drug use (traditional harm reduction, e.g. needle exchange).
3. Reducing the amount of drugs supplied (supply reduction, e.g. traditional enforcement).
Drug enforcement efforts have traditionally focused on arrests and drug seizures with the aim of reducing supply. However, such efforts often have limited or no sustained impact on supply, because most drug markets are large, resilient and quick to adapt. Enforcement can even have unintended consequences, resulting in an increase in the damage that drug markets inflict on a community (for instance, by triggering a ‘turf war’).
However, because not all drug markets are equally harmful, a fourth strategy is available; a strategy that has potential to deliver real and lasting benefits even where drug markets are entrenched:
4. Reducing the harms associated with the supply of drugs (caused by drug markets and drug control activities).