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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 21, Issue 1, Spring 2021

Cara L. Connaughton, RN, Jillian J. Boerstler
Pages 69-84

Harm Reduction for Intravenous Substance Use
A Moral Analysis of Common Strategies

North America is facing an ongoing, persistent opioid epidemic, and Vancouver, British Columbia, continues to be one of its devastating epicenters, with record overdose deaths in 2020. Roman Catholic health care organizations in Vancouver are compelled to pioneer potential solutions to this public health crisis—in solidarity and employing necessary strategies to help the most vulnerable in the communities served. While controversial, harm reduction strategies for intravenous substance use keep people alive until they are able to receive the help that they need to recover. An evaluation of the degree of cooperation involved in some harm reduction strategies indicates that they can be considered morally permissible and compatible with core tenets of Catholic bioethics.

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