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Harm Reduction


  Damage Reduction

The concepts of harm reduction in therapy and in support programs dictate starting interventions where people really are, with their personal goals, doubts and circumstances in which they function. It is a low-threshold approach, because it reduces to a minimum the requirements that are often unrealistic and eliminate from the programs, which the recipients of the programs are not able to meet at their initial stage.

This approach sees the harmful consequences of substance use in the so-called the continuum of life and allows you to move along this continuum, taking harm reduction measures, and small, improving steps are considered tangible and important successes. Under this concept, abstinence may be the best option for many people, but it may not be a prerequisite or a requirement in a program or therapy decision.


Improvement in the functioning of people taking psychoactive substances can occur without abstinence as a prerequisite, and the treatment goals recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other institutions should not be limited to abstinence. The currently proposed hierarchy of therapeutic goals assumes the following gradation:


  • Limiting health damage.

  • Improving functioning.

  • Abstinence.


Extensive scientific research on the effectiveness of harm reduction programs confirms its effectiveness in such areas as:

  • reducing the risk of infectious diseases (HIV, HCV, HBV),

  • reducing drug overdose mortality,

  • improving health, quality of life and lifestyle changes,

  • obtaining a high rate of maintenance of patients in substitution therapy,

  • limiting risky behavior related to the use of heroin,

  • limiting the phenomenon of social exclusion,

  • crime reduction.

In this area, the Foundation conducts interventions for users of psychoactive substances and people who engage in risky behavior. We conduct street work activities aimed at reaching people exposed to serious social problems. FES is guided by the philosophy of harm reduction, putting the health of its customers and clients first. Addicts receive clean injection equipment from our employees, and information to use it once and not to share it with other people, while Foundation employees collect used needles and syringes, secured, so that random people are not exposed to stings with a contaminated needle. Such activities are of great importance for the quality of public health of the entire local community.


In addition, such pro-health interventions allow FES employees to build trust among excluded people, thanks to which the possibility of a dialogue encouraging the concept of fighting the disease such as addiction opens. Our highest goal is to save human life and health. The anti-drug activities in harm reduction conducted by the Foundation, including promoting the use of sterile syringes by addicts and performing HIV tests, have been carried out in Warsaw for over 20 years.


Source: FES documents and Świat Problemów 

Project Coordinator

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Ph.D. Magdalena Ankiersztejn - Bartczak

Mobile Harm Reduction Service

The Mobile Harm Reduction Service is the first project of this type in Poland, assuming a wide offer of a health and social harm reduction program among people using psychoactive substances and psychotropic substances that are harmful and addicted to them. The website is offered in a mobile form - a motorhome. The project started in August 2017.  

As part of the mobile service, free and anonymous testing for HIV, HCV and syphilis in the key population of people who use psychoactive substances is available, additionally equipment replacement and free medical, legal and social counseling are offered. It is an innovative offer to reach and test users of psychoactive substances beyond the Consultation and Diagnostics Points. Mobile testing gives you a chance to reach vacant lots, allotment gardens - that is, places where some addicts live, who have limited access to stationary care.

The Foundation, like organizations in other European countries, has a holistic approach to health issues. Activities are particularly targeted at key populations . 

The aim of the project is to reach the widest possible audience and offer them a comprehensive service that combines testing, hardware replacement programs and free counseling. This action is aimed at improving the health condition (possibility of early diagnosis and intervention and reducing health damage) and better social functioning of users. A modern, comprehensive Mobile Harm Reduction Service is a combination of fast finger blood tests and a wide range of harm reduction services at the "drop in" points run by the Precursor Foundation, it is a possibility to encourage injection users to perform tests that do not require blood sampling from a vein and do not require long waiting for the result (the result is given on the same day, within 15 minutes). Testing for HIV and other infectious diseases is a very important element of health activities and harm reduction, as it allows not only to verify the serological status, but also to provide basic knowledge about HIV and other dangers resulting from the use of psychoactive substances and ways to protect against the consequences of diseases in the future. .

A very important element of this project is education and striving to change the patterns of using psychoactive substances. The motorhome team includes an advisor, medical worker and a person who works directly with users and conducts environmental activities - an employee of the PREKURSOR Foundation. The combined forces of specialists provide access to a wide service in the form of exchange of needles and syringes, access to condoms, but also education in the field of safer behavior. These activities are intended to prevent infections related to the use of psychoactive substances.

The project also offers legal support and crisis intervention, which allows you to help people outside the residential support system.

The Mobile Harm Reduction Service project is implemented in cooperation with the Social Policy Foundation  PREKURSOR , thanks to co-financing by the Office of the Capital City of Warsaw, the National Office for Drug Prevention - Agenda of the Minister of Health and sponsors of GSK and Gilead Sciences.

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Project coordinator

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Rafał Król

Male Banie is the first nationwide educational and support platform for people struggling with addiction to psychoactive substances and making contacts under their influence - chemsex for short. The project was established in 2019 in response to the growing demand for a form of assistance free from prejudice, discrimination and culturally sensitive . 

It is a platform associating a group of specialists from all over Poland. Doctors, psychologists, sexologists, social activists dealing with sexual health, psychoactive substances, addictions. Male Banie allows direct contact with a specialist in your province, as well as finding an aid facility without fear of discrimination or stigmatization there.

The project also aims to spread education on psychoactive substances, harm reduction and sexual health by promoting educational materials and blogging. Anyone can get answers to questions related to chemsex, drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, PrEP, PEP through the direct contact form.

The main assumption of the project is to create a safe space and counteract exclusion, which is why the project organized debates on the sexual health of non-heterosexual men and active participation in the Warsaw Equality Parade, and the activities involve people from the LGBT + community and the Drag scene.

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