Funding for Harm Reduction

Redirecting Funds to Harm Reduction

We spend 750x more on punitive responses to drugs than we do on life-saving services for people who use drugs.

We advocate for redirection of funding for punitive drug control towards life-saving, cost-effective, and rights-based harm reduction interventions and in programmes which prioritise health, community and justice.

$100 billion

annual expenditure on global drug law enforcement

$131 million

annual expenditure on harm reduction

750 X

more spent on punitive drug control


$100 billion is spent on global drug law enforcement every year, but just $131 million is spent on harm reduction. This means that we spend more than 750 times the amount on punitive responses than we do on life-saving services for people who use drugs.

Not only are punitive responses ineffective at reducing drug use and sale, but they also drive the stigmatisation of people who use drugs, leading to discrimination and poor health outcomes for individuals and communities.

Our research shows that if we redirect just 7.5% of the funds currently spent on drug law enforcement towards health-based responses to drug use such as opioid agonist therapy, needle and syringe programmes, we could:

  • Almost entirely end AIDS among people who inject drugs 
  • Prevent viral hepatitis among people who use drugs
  • Save thousands of lives by giving Naloxone (a medicine which reverses opioid overdoses) to first responders, family, and community members
  • Improve the health of people who use drugs in prisons and detention centres by providing harm reduction services in those settings

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