Acceptability and Availability of Harm-Reduction Interventions for Drug Abuse in American Substance Abuse Treatment Agencies

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This study assessed acceptability, availability, and reasons for nonavailability of interventions designed to prevent drug use related harm by substituting pharmaceuticals for illicit drugs; facilitating detoxification; and reducing the occurrence of HIV transmission, relapse, and opiate overdose. A survey was mailed to a sample of 500 randomly selected American substance abuse treatment agencies. Of 435 potentially eligible respondents, 222 (51%) returned usable data. A subset of interventions—including harm reduction education, cue exposure therapy, needle exchange, substitute opiate prescribing, various detoxification regimes, and complementary therapies—were rated as somewhat or completely acceptable by 50% or more of the respondents. Regardless of their acceptability, listed interventions were generally not available from responding agencies; respondents typically attributed unavailability to lack of resources and inconsistency of an intervention with agency philosophy.

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