Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is often considered as a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with various behaviours including smoking, sexual activity and drug and alcohol use. Harm reduction is not without its critics who typically believe that tolerating risky or illegal behaviour gives the message that such behaviours are acceptable. However, one of the best examples of a harm reduction approach is, providing clean needles and syringes to injecting drug users to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood-borne viruses. This approach is an efficient method of it helping prevent the spread of disease and can be the first step for drug users in a long journey of rebuilding their lives. The following illustrates some Harm Reduction information.

The UK Harm Reduction Alliance published a statement on the meaning of ‘harm reduction’ they have prepared a definition of harm reduction, and identified the core principles of harm reduction. 


Harm reduction is a term that defines policies, programmes, services and actions that work to reduce the:

  • health;
  • social; and
  • economic

harms to:

  • individuals;
  • communities; and
  • society

that are associated with the use of drugs (Newcombe 1992)

The principles of harm reduction:

The following principles of harm reduction are adapted from those set out by The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA 1996).

Harm reduction:

  • Is pragmatic: and accepts that the use of drugs is a common and enduring feature of human experience. It acknowledges that, while carrying risks, drug use provides the user with benefits that must be taken into account if responses to drug use are to be effective. Harm reduction recognises that containment and reduction of drug-related harms is a more feasible option than efforts to eliminate drug use entirely.
  • Prioritises goals: harm reduction responses to drug use incorporate the notion of a hierarchy of goals, with the immediate focus on proactively engaging individuals, targetting groups, and communities to address their most compelling needs through the provision of accessible and user friendly services. Achieving the most immediate realistic goals is viewed as an essential first step toward risk-free use, or, if appropriate, abstinence.
  • Has humanist values: the drug user's decision to use drugs is accepted as fact. No moral judgment is made either to condemn or to support use of drugs. The dignity and rights of the drug user are respected, and services endeavor to be ‘user friendly’ in the way they operate. Harm reduction approaches also recognise that, for many, dependent drug use is a long term feature of their lives and that responses to drug use have to accept this.
  • Focuses on risks and harms: on the basis that by providing responses that reduce risk, harms can be reduced or avoided. The focus of risk reduction interventions are usually the drug taking behaviour of the drug user. However, harm reduction recognises that people’s ability to change behaviours is also influenced by the norms held in common by drug users, the attitudes and views of the wider community Harm reduction interventions may therefore target individuals, communities and the wider society.
  • Does not focus on abstinence: although harm reduction supports those who seek to moderate or reduce their drug use, it neither excludes nor presumes a treatment goal of abstinence. Harm reduction approaches recognise that short-term abstinence oriented treatments have low success rates, and, for opiate users, high post-treatment overdose rates.
  • Seeks to maximise the range of intervention options that are available, and engages in a process of identifying, measuring, and assessing the relative importance of drug-related harms and balancing costs and benefits in trying to reduce them.

Here you will find a range of fact sheets, please note while every effort is made to update the information within the fact sheets it is not always possible therefore please take cauttion when interpreting this information


Anabolic Steriod





Cannabis (Synthetic)

Cannabinoids Synthetic









Magic Mushrooms

Nitrous Oxide

Gabapentin or Pregablin

Volatile Substances 

Knowledge and understanding can also reduce harm, below is a list of language more commonly used on the streets etc etc

The following list covers some street-terms for drugs, drug use, and drug paraphernalia. This is not a  comprehensive list as each locality, area and region will have their own depending on local dialect, culture, and time. There is great variation so please consult with caution


Acid: LSD, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide.

Adam: MDMA; Ecstasy

Amp: Ampoule

Apples: Brand of ecstasy



Back-loading: method of filling one syringe with another, by removing the plunger of the empty syringe and squirting the contents of the full syringe into the back of the empty one.

Bad hit: an unpleasant reaction to injecting drugs, possibly caused by injecting poor quality or contaminated drugs, using dirty equipment, or missing the site. Also known as a Dirty Hit.

Bag: packaging for drugs, especially heroin, which is often sold in small bags, e.g. a £10 bag.

Banging Up: injecting

Bar: term for larger quantities of cannabis, ounce bar or kilo bar.

Barbs: barbiturates

Barrel: part of syringe, the graduated cylinder that hold the liquid.

Base: cocaine that has been freed from its base (crack); grey, putty-like amphetamine based compound, typically far stronger than amphetamine sulphate

Benzos: Benzodiazepines, tranquillisers, blues

Billy: billy-whizz; amphetamines.

Biscuits: Disco-biscuits, Ecstasy

Black: Cannabis resin, typically soft, malleable and a bit oily.

Blow: cannabis, usually resin but is used for grass as well.

Bob: bob-hope, Dope: cannabis

Bombed: Usually, amphetamines wrapped in a cigarette paper and swallowed.

Bones: crack-cocaine

Bong: pipe, often part-filled with water, used to smoke cannabis

Brew: Special Brew; strong lager.

Brown: Street heroin

Buddha/booda: Sometimes spliff with strong weed; elsewhere spliff with crack.

Burgers: Ecstasy

Bush: Herbal cannabis, mainly flowering heads.

Butane: gas, used in lighter refills, inhaled to achieve intoxication



Charlie: cocaine

Chasing the dragon: smoking heroin from a piece of silver foil. The heroin is placed in a line on the foil and heated from below. The heroin becomes liquid and gives off a curl of smoke which is inhaled through a tube.

China White: Very pure heroin, scarce in the UK, more available in the US.

Clean: drug-free

Clucking: withdrawing from or experiencing withdrawal from heroin or other opiates. 

Coke: cocaine

Cold Turkey: the symptoms and experience of withdrawing from heroin.

Coming up: the point at which a drug, typically Ecstasy, starts to have its effect. Pulse rate increases, and a user may feel exhilarated, anxious, paranoid, and breathless.

Cooking-up: preparing drugs, especially Heroin, for injection.

Crack: cocaine that has been treated to free it from its hydrochloride base, allowing it to be smoked.

Cranking: injecting

Crystal meth: methamphetamine, ice.

Cut: Adulterants added to a drug to increase its bulk.



Deal: sell illegal drugs; a purchase of drugs ( e.g. a £10 deal.)

Dennis the Menace: ecstasy, usually in red and black capsules.

Dexies: dexedrine, dexamphetamine sulphate; amphetamine-type CNS stimulants.

Dikes: diconal; an opiate analgesic.

DFs: DF118, Dihydrocodeine; an opiate analgesic

Dope: cannabis

Doves: ecstasy, usually round white tablets with dove imprint.

Downers: depressant drugs.

Draw: cannabis

Drawing-up: using a syringe to suck prepared drugs from a spoon for injection.

Dropped: taken, swallowed



E's: Ecstasy

Eggs: Temazepam capsule

Eighth: Deal of cannabis weighing an eighth of an ounce.



Fix: injecting drugs, preparing drugs for injection, drugs needed to maintain a habit, (e.g. if I don't get my fix, I'll be ill.")

Flashback: Experiencing moments of an LSD trip a considerable period after using the drug. Flashbacks can occur weeks, months or rarely years after the actual acid experience.

Flushing: after finding a vein, a small amount of blood is drawn into the syringe prior to injecting. Some users will flush several times after injecting.

Freebase: cocaine that has been treated to free it from its hydrochloride base, allowing it to be smoked.

Frontloading: method of filling one syringe with another, by removing the needle of the empty syringe and squirting the contents of the full syringe into the nozzle of the empty one.



Ganja: cannabis

Gas: butane gas, a volatile substance.

Gouching: Heavily sedated through using opiates; user will appear drowsy, and appear to drop off mid sentence or activity.

GBH: GHB, GammaHydroxy Butyrate

Gear: cannabis or heroin.

Glue: adhesives that are also used as volatile substances

Grass: cannabis, in herbal form.



H: Heroin

Habit: being dependent on a drug (e.g. "I've had a habit for three years,")

Hash: cannabis resin

Hash-cakes: Cannabis cooked into cakes.

Hemp: the cannabis plant, its seeds, and fabric or rope derived from the plant.

Herb: Cannabis in leaf or flower form.

Hit: injected drugs; the effect of drugs reaching the brain.

Homegrown: herbal cannabis grown on a small scale; may be low in strength.

Hooked: Addicted, dependent

Horse: Heroin


I + J

Ice: methamphetamine, a powerful smokeable CNS stimulant 


Jacking-up: injecting

Jagging: injecting

Jellies: Temazepam capsules

Juice: methadone mixture

Junk: heroin

Junky: a person who is dependent on a drug, usually heroin. While the term is widely seen as derogatory, many people who use drugs use the term self-referentially



K-Holing: taking Ketamine, the experience of using Ketamine


Lick the bones: smoke crack

Liquid Cosh: Largactil, a powerful antipsychotic medication



Mainlining: Using drugs intravenously.

Meth: methadone, methamphetamine or methedrine.

Microdots: form of LSD which are small pellets, little larger than 2mm across.

Munchies: Intense desire for food brought on by taking cannabis.

Mushies: Magic mushrooms 



OD: overdose

Off it: drug free, (e.g. "I'm off the gear now.")

Ohms: LSD design featuring symbol of an ohm.

Oil: cannabis oil; oily liquid high in THC.

On one: under the influence of a drug, typically Ecstasy or LSD

Out of it: heavily intoxicated, possibly past the point of rational conversation or actions.



Penguins: LSD design illustrated with a picture of a penguin.

Pills: generic term for drugs in pill form; may refer to nearly any drugs, though is often used in relation to Ecstasy.

Pins: needles for injection.

Pinned: Under the influence of opiates, typified by contracted (pinned) pupils.

Plunger: Part of a syringe.

Poppers: amyl or butyl nitrites.

Pot: cannabis

Puff: Cannabis


Qat: Khat



Rattling: feeling unwell due to withdrawal from drugs.

Red Seal: cannabis resin

Rhubarb and Custard: Type of Ecstasy, usually sold in yellow and purple capsules.

Rinse: to reclaim residue from a spoon after injecting to resuse [Stoke]

Roach: Small piece of cardboard placed in end of spliff.

Rocks: lumps of crack cocaine.

Rocky: cannabis resin, usually hard and dry texture.

Rohies: Rohypnol

Rinse: Term for washing up spoon after injecting to reclaim remaining drugs for injection (Stoke on Trent)

Rush: Amyl Nitrites; the sense of drugs impacting rapidly on the body, of Heroin when injected or of stimulants as they start to take effect.



Score: to purchase drugs illegally

Script: Prescription, usually for controlled drugs.

Sensimellia: cannabis, the flowering heads of the female cannabis plant.

Shit: heroin; cannabis

Shrooms: Magic mushrooms.

Sixteenth: smallest deal of cannabis, a sixteenth of an ounce.

Skag: heroin

Skin Up: Prepare cannabis in a spliff.

Skunk: hybrid strain of cannabis, bred in Holland, stronger than typical cannabis.

Smack: heroin

Snort: Take drugs, mainly cocaine, amphetamines or heroin by inhaling into the nasal passages.

Snow: cocaine

Snowball: Ecstasy type substance, often more MDA than MDMA.

Soap: cannabis resin, usually comes in smooth brown rounded bars.

Solid: Cannabis resin

Special K: Ketamine.

Speed: amphetamines.

Speedball: mixture of an upper and a downer, usually speed and heroin or cocaine and heroin.

Spliff: cannabis; cannabis that has been put into cigarette papers with tobacco to smoke.

Stoned: generic term for under the effects of drugs, mostly associated with cannabis.

Stones: lumps of crack cocaine.

Strawberries: LSD illustrated with a picture of a strawberry



Tab: LSD; cigarettes.

Teenth: sixteenth of an ounce of cannabis.

Temazzies: Temazepam.

Tolly: toluene, a solvent.

Tranx: tranquillisers

Trip: LSD; sometimes used for Ecstasy; also the act of using LSD (e.g. I'm tripping.)



Uppers: Generic term for stimulant drugs


Vallies: Valium

Vitamin K: Ketamine



Wacky Baccy: Cannabis

Wash: to prepare crack from cocaine powder; also to recover residue from a spoon after injecting to reuse it (stoke on trent)

Weed: Cannabis (herbal form).

White Lightning: LSD

Whiz: Amphetamines

Wobbly Eggs: Temazepam capsules.

Wrap: Small folded paper packet used for selling powdered drugs especially cocaine and speed.