Steering Demand for Illegal Drugs: how policy contexts affect peer interventions

Sarah Kyambi

Research output: Working paper


This working paper looks at policymakers’ efforts to steer demand for illegal drugs, specifically demand for heroin. The paper contrasts two different policy approaches to heroin: a prohibitionist approach and a harm reduction approach. These two approaches are exemplified in the study by New York City and Rotterdam respectively.
The research was unable to determine whether either of these approaches was more effective in eliminating drug use. However, there is convincing evidence that the harm reduction approach reduced the HIV infection rate among drug users substantially compared to the prohibitionist approach. Part of this success relies on the effectiveness of peer initiatives to promote safe injection practices. The comparison between New York and Rotterdam shows that such initiatives can only function effectively and gain a wide reach when they are not criminalised.
The study posits framing trafficking in human beings (THB) as a harm associated with particular activities and discusses whether approaching policymaking in areas such commercial sex, domestic work and immigration with a more explicit focus on harm reduction merits further consideration.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDemand AT
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2014


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