Many of the harms associated with heroin stem from its prohibition. Below are some of the policy solutions to address the harms associated with heroin.

Syringe Access

Sterile syringe access programs help lower risks associated with injecting, especially the transmission of blood borne diseases like HIV, by limiting syringe sharing and providing safe disposal options. These programs also provide people who inject drugs with referrals to treatment, detoxification, social services and primary health care.

911 Good Samaritan Laws

Witnesses to an overdose often hesitate to call for help due to fear of police involvement. 911 Good Samaritan laws provide protection for witnesses to an overdose who call 911. This policy protects the witness from arrest and prosecution for simple drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and/or being under the influence. Most laws do not protect people from arrest for drug sales or other offenses.

Naloxone Access

Naloxone Hydrochloride, sold under the brand name Narcan™, is a drug which blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing when administered during an overdose. It is not psychoactive, has no potential for misuse, and side effects are rare. It saves lives without increasing drug use or risk-taking behavior. Increasing access to naloxone does not promote an increase in drug use.

Supervised Consumption Services (SCS)

Supervised consumption services are legally-sanctioned facilities designed to reduce the health and public order issues often associated with public injection and drug use. They are also called safe injection facilities (SIFs), drug consumption rooms or safer drug use services. These facilities provide a safe space for people to consume pre-obtained drugs in controlled settings, under the supervision of trained staff, and with access to sterile injecting equipment.

Access to Drug Checking Services

Drug checking in a harm reduction service that can reduce overdose fatalities by detecting dangerous adulterants. By checking for dangerous adulterants found in street drugs, drug checking helps users avoid using potentially dangerous substances like fentanyl.

Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT)

Under Heroin Assisted Treatment, pharmacological heroin is administered under strict controls in a clinical setting to those for whom other treatments have been unsuccessful. It has been shown to lead to improvement in health, well being and social reintegration for those undergoing treatment. It has also proven to cause major reductions in illegal drug use, crime, disease and overdose.

See the fact sheet for more information and sources.