To safely partake in substances, we must identify strategies for healthy and responsible drug use. Taking precautions can reduce your risks and help you create a better relationship with drugs. 


What is the Harm Reduction Perspective?

Harm reduction is an alternative to the all-or-nothing abstinence approach of standard drug treatments. This perspective supports individuals in the goals they wish to pursue, whether that be decreasing substance use or learning coping strategies to handle triggering situations. 

The harm reduction philosophy tailors treatment to an individual’s unique needs so that they can learn strategies for healthy and responsible drug use.


Applying the “Drug, Set, and Setting” Approach

Developed by Dr. Norman Earl Zinberg, the “Drug, Set, and Setting” approach is a harm reduction tool. It encourages you to identify unique use patterns.

1. Drug

Begin by identifying the type of substance used, how often, and in what quantity. It's a process particularly helpful for those using multiple elements, as they may not be at the same stage of acceptance for each drug.


2. Set

Set focuses on the current mindset or psychological factors influencing drug use. That might include variables like coping skills, mood or anxiety disorders, or reasons for substance use. It might also involve the level of motivation and if there are treatment expectations.


3. Setting 

Setting identifies the environment and social aspects linked to drug use to provide critical insight into potential triggers. For instance, do you use when out with friends or at home?

Making changes to at least one of the three aspects, drug, set, and setting, can simultaneously impact the others. By monitoring the effectiveness of these changes, it is possible to create strategies for healthy and responsible drug use.