Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beyond Harm Reduction: The Drug User Empowerment Movement

     One of the defining characteristics of the term "harm reduction" is that it can subjectively have many multiple meanings to the various groups and individuals involved in it's implementation as a health care strategy. Any treatment center or rehab can claim to be following a "harm reduction policy" despite the mode of treatment they employ being in actuality harmful to drug users including mandatory treatment that is not evidence based (AA/NA), or using psychologically traumatizing "behavior modification" techniques. Fortunately, harm reduction policies and procedures that encourage drug users to be autonomous and advocate for themselves are out there (peer/ drug user run needle exchanges, peer distributed naloxone/Narcan, and peer facilitated support groups for example) and should be encouraged at every level by drug user activists and their allies. The greatest obstacle to the broad implementation of truly helpful to drug users harm reduction policies is of course the systematic persecution of drug users via the enforcement of prohibition. In other words the most effective harm reduction policies will never be put into practice if drug users do not have the right to receive them.
    More to follow....