Practitioners should understand that for a young person to practice harm reduction, three factors will need to be in place. 

  1. The young person will need to be motivated to change their injecting drug use behaviour. 
  2. The young person will need to have knowledge and understanding of what constitutes risky behaviour in relation to their injecting drug use. 
  3. The young person will need to be enabled with the opportunity, tools and resources to change their behaviour (Flemen, 2008)

Motivation, Knowledge, Opportunity


A practitioner who is confident and knowledgeable in the areas of injecting drug use and harm reduction is pivotal in effecting change and facilitating a reduction in risk-taking behaviour. Whilst having these elements of motivation, knowledge and opportunity in place is ideal, many young people are unwilling to engage in substantive change; in settings such as street outreach and day programs, some young people may range in and out of treatment modalities without much focus on changing their practices. In these cases, the provision of sterile injecting equipment needs to be the major focus for the practitioner, and any engagement around other health promoting behaviours should not pose a burden or barrier in any way to the provision of sterile injecting equipment. Each interaction with the young person is an opportunity to build on engagement and motivation for change.

‘Harm reduction practices are applied incrementally based in the needs of the individual and their readiness and capacity for change’