Drugs, both legal and illegal, are a cause of considerable concern across Australian society. Although only a small proportion of people in our community use illicit drugs, the related harms to the person using and to the community are significant. These harms include family and social difficulties, mental health issues, overdose related deaths, transmission of blood borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C, and involvement in drug-related crime.  

Despite the efforts of police and other agencies some people continue to use drugs.  In recognition of this, NSW Police Force supports and operates within the principles of harm minimisation and Australia’s National Drug Strategy.

Harm minimisation is not about condoning drug use, rather it refers to policies and programs designed to prevent and reduce harm associated with both licit and illicit drugs.  Harm minimisation encompasses:

  • Supply reduction strategies to disrupt or reduce the production and supply of illegal drugs; and control, manage and/or regulate the availability of legal drugs;

  • Demand reduction strategies to prevent or delay the uptake of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use; reduce substance misuse and support people to recover from dependence and reintegrate with the community; and

  • Harm reduction strategies to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.


The National Drug Strategy recognises that optimal results are achieved when supply reduction measures operate together with demand reduction and harm reduction strategies involving law enforcement, the health sector, community and regulatory agencies. NSW Police Force activities are consistent with the National Drug Strategy.

NSW Police Force activities:

  • target those involved in illicit drug supply;
  • aim to make illicit drugs less available;
  • provide drug offenders with opportunities to address drug problems;
  • increase the likelihood of people seeking treatment; and
  • reinforce the message that illicit drug use is not condoned by the community.


NSW Police Force supports harm minimisation programs such as Needle Syringe Programs, methadone and related drug treatment programs, diversion of drug offenders into health interventions and the use of police discretion in drug overdose situations.

Drugs and the Law

Finding help or more information

Need to talk to someone about alcohol or drugs?  Call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1800 422 599 or (02) 9361 8000.

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