Access to healthcare, justice, and education are critical to our shared struggle. Tell the world how access —or lack of access —has shaped your life or the life of someone close to you by sharing stories from this page to your social feed and telling your own story in the space provided below.
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"As a first year med student, I believe access to healthcare is a human right. Syringes, naloxone, and HCV treatment are life-saving measures that everyone in the medical field should care about and advocate for. We are all in this together."
"Every time I hear about another person losing their life to overdose, my heart breaks a little bit more. I dream to live in a world where everyone can be open and honest about their drug user and no one is faced to use behind locked doors. A world where naloxone is so accessible that we never lose another life to overdose."
"I am a community health outreach worker, public health anthropologist, and anti-capitalist who wants to use harm reduction as social justice work to mitigate the pain of those left behind and empower myself to stay strong and resilient in my own journey to survive."
"In 1994 the Michigan AIDS FUND hosted Edith Springer at their annual conference. When I heard her talk about harm reduction and syringe access, I remember thinking "Hallelujah... I've come home." I have been a fierce and relentless harm reduction trainer and advocate ever since. My children live HIV free because of the privilege I was born into, but also because of syringe access and harm reduction."
"My story as an IV drug user is full of numerous abstinence based treatment programs. None of them worked. Only when I was prescribed suboxone did I start to become my true self again. Without the availability of easy access to needle exchange I contracted Hep C. But thanks to programs in Seattle I am beginning to understand and work towards getting cured. <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3."
"Harm-reduction has made me a more compassionate human being. As a man in recovery I get to approach the work with empathy, see remarkable change happen, and watch extraordinary people live. HARM REDUCTION = Life and possi
"This is an exciting time for viral hepatitis. We have an awesome cure for hep c, and now we must ensure that ALL communities have access to treatment --Especially drug users! Public health is social justice, and it's every human's right."
"We need to stop the shaming, the stigma, the scare tactics, and the war on drugs. A harm reduction approach has been proven to reduce disease, overdose, wounds, and most importantly, it forces us to acknowledge drug users as human beings worthy of respect, compassion, housing, healthcare, autonomy, and a voice. Only 10% of drug users are in treatment --what about the remaining 90%? I demand access to clean syringes and naloxone to anyone who wants it. It saves lives."
"I have been a methadone injector for 24 years. My drug of choice is heroin but methadone is my drug of convenience. Heroin was difficult to get in Australia after year 2000. I saved up my heroin money and eventually had a deposit to buy a house. Please, if you can't give us heroin-assisted treatment, what about another injectable opioid?"
"Harm reduction practice is in my DNA. It has been the foundation of survival for people of color. It is time to demand social justice and address the harm inflicted on black people by systems and practices rooted in racism."
"Thanks to harm reduction, I had tools to act with compassion and help D. when he told me he was sick of using opioids. 700+ people died of an overdose in Philadelphia last year. I'm SAD and ANGRY they did not have access to treatment and naloxone like D. did."
"My maternal grandmother had a hysterectomy in the 1950s because she douched with Lysol. She had no idea what the surgery was so [she] had to ask my mother, who was 15 at the time. I fight or health education because ignorance kills."
"When I started learning about drug policy I didn't know anyone with HIV or who overdosed or went to prison. Or I didn't know if I did. Quick I saw how we're hurting so many people. There's no drug exception to human rights and there's no excuse for standing in the way of harm reduction."
"Harm reduction helped me appreciate the importance of small steps to protect myself, and always start again today. Love, music, and dance are my medicine. We need access to and validation of all forms of healing to overcome America's deadly epidemic of social, physical, emotional, and existential pain."
I am a bisexual transgender man. I believe in and use harm reduction in my own substance use and in navigating mental illness. No matter what your reasons are for using substances you deserve access to supportive and uplifting healthcare, dignity, and respect and you deserve a loving community. The harm reduction community is filled with the most loving people I've ever met who will be by your side for life."
"I would like to stop hearing stories about preventible overdose deaths around needle exchange programs in Tijuana. Let's make it possible and start enabling successful stories about naloxone use in the Mexican border saving lives."
"My little brother died from an accidental overdose at 20 years old. We did not have the education, support, or naloxone to turn to. I believe the drug war killed Alex so I'm out to help end the drug war and save lives by distributing naloxone in his memory."
"Harm reduction and their advocacy for change has given me courage and purpose when I was struggling with trying to establish a direction at a time in my life when I knew my life as it was would need be the same as I struggled with the overdose death of my son."
"The San Francisco Public Defender's Office teams attorneys with social workers to provide a holistic model of criminal defense. Social workers help to decrease the harms of incarceration by providing emotional support to clients in jail, advocating for treatment over incarceration by providing emotional support to clients in jail, advocating for treatment over incarceration, and providing discharge planning for clients being released from custody."
"The latest AIDS strategy the way forward in creating an AIDS free generation. The 2 main factors to achieve a world w/o AIDS are linkage to and retention in care. This means more investment in public health through policies based in science instead of morality that prioritizes building stronger, inclusive communities and systems of care. We must always have this in our public narrative."
"Fighting with doctors about why I need PrEP, hormones, and medication to manage my chronic pain is exhausting and dehumanizing. I'm a faggot with a vagina, I use drugs, and demand access to culturally competent care that respects my autonomy."
"I've lost too many people to overdose deaths, hepatitis C, and marginalization since I was a kid and far too often in my work at syringe exchanges. I fight and grieve everyday for them. Harm reduction saved my life --it gave me a way to love and support my friends and family and allowed me to see people survive and take care of each other."
"As a student nurse midwife and future healthcare provider, I want to see the integration of harm reduction into all health care --including reproductive health. Access to care is a human rights issue. It is our responsibility as healthcare providers to engage politically to improve access, our resistance and silence is just as much a political statement."
"As a beneficiary of a system THAT WAS BUILT ON AND SUSTAINS ITSELF by perpetuating injustice, I stand in support of people who have been denied justice, healthcare, human rights, and a sense of worth within this society. EVERYONE DESERVES QUALITY APPROPRIATE healthcare and a chance to be their best."
"Together with many comrades, some no longer alive, I have been demanding access to dignified community-based healthcare for people who use drugs for many years. Change moves too slow but it brings me hope to finally start to see it happening. <3."
"I had an abortion. In so many ways, I was lucky --I live in a large, liberal city, I have health insurance, I have a support system. My experience is not the norm. So many folks don't have that access. So many women are criminalized for taking control of their bodies. We need to trust women . We need to trust drug users. We need to let people make decisions for themselves. Reproductive health justice is harm reduction."
"Access to clean syringes and safe consumption site would have saved my husband from years of infections like epidural abscess, osteomyelitis, and endocarditis. Expanded access to naloxone will ensure I will not lose another friend to overdose I will continue fighting to change drug policy and remove the stigma that follows all drug users, especially women and mothers like me."
"As a LCSW, MAC, and bi-sexual black woman raised in the south who create a not-4-profit agency focusing on the affected population as it relates to HIV/Hep-C/Substance use. I realized it's a human right different outlooks on how "we" must create access to the "worried well" individuals affected by the issues of active users and their health disparities."
"LGBTQ lives matter. And, without access to naloxone, one of our most vulnerable populations would be further marginalized. It saved the life of one of my dearest friends and can save the lives of many more. We demand access to all now!"
"We don't just need access to care, we need access to OPTIONS. People should be able to choose the treatments that match their goals; whether abstinence, moderation, harm reduction, or any other positive change! #demandaccess"
"Half of my family includes people of colour including my son. Harm reduction is as much about protecting my family from injustice and racism as it is about promoting the human rights of people who use drugs. It's never just professional... it's always personal."
"The work I do has the potential to touch tens of thousands of lives, yet I continue to bury some of the people closest to me. When someone summons the courage to ask for help, they should not have to demonstrate how ready they are to receive it."
"A few of my friends in high school started using heroin and one of them sadly overdosed and died. I always wonder now how things might have gone differently for him if he had access to narcan and opioid replacement therapy."
"I'm a mom speaking out to end the war on drugs, which is really a war on families. My two sons, who struggled with heroin addiction for decades, were stigmatized and criminalized. Ending mass incarceration is as the core of harm reduction. This is a human rights issue!"
"Hello I'm a woman who is living with HIV for 26 years. By me access[ing] care [I'm] still living also by me accessing care I learn[ed] about Hep C and with that good I learned that I had Hep C and now I'm cured from Hep C. So it's important and [a] human right to get good care."
"I have always been a rebel AKA a shit disturber. I speak truth to power even when it hurts me. I grow so angry, cynical, and hopeless when I look a how my drug user family is treated by those who claim to serve them. Can we get high in your house yet? Have you ever suffered like we do? The truth I see is that we are exploited in ways that are criminal, immoral, and even genocidal."
"The men from my maternal family fought in three wars and returned home with substance addictions. My grandfather was given 2 cigarettes with each meal during his service. He died of lung cancer when I was 3 years old. His sons died before I got to know them. I want the government to stop promoting substance dependance and address the mental health needs of soldiers and veterans. And prisoners. And politicians. And police officers. I miss the men from my family."
"I had Hep C for 32 years. Interferon almost took me out and didn't work. I ended up with cirrhosis. Got cured on new meds anyway. I've been getting drug users treated since 2002 by any means necessary. Everyone deserves a cure. We are all humans, that's all. We all deserve a cure. We are all worth it."
"Hepatitis C is the leading cause of infectious disease related death in the U.S. AND we have cures! Stigma and concerns about bottom lines over lives prevent access to these meds. EVERYONE living with hep C deserves a cure --NOW!"
"Not everyone is born with the same resources and support. Harm reduction meets people where they're at without judgment or rejection. To work with populations who have been written off by society and who've endured hell is an honor."
"When my son is released from prison in 21 days he will face the world at 22 years old as a 4x felon for only using drugs and overdosing. He is also infected with untreated hepatitis C. Criminalization does not solve addiction. Judgement does not save lives."
"In my family we don't talk about a lot of things... we don't talk about how substance use has effected us, we don't talk about those of us living with hepatitis and we don't talk about our trauma. Access is more than just access. It's a stigma neutralizer, it's a conversation starter it saves lives."
"I found my brother when he overdosed on heroin. Luckily, he was revived with naloxone. He was using alone because of the stigma. We need a safe space for people to use so we can keep them healthy and alive. We need safe consumption spaces now!"
"My son Ian: brilliant, loyal, funny, beautiful. He was a traveling kid struggling with mental illness and a heroin habit. He died of an overdose but he lived longer and healthier because of harm reduction programs from S.F. to N.Y.C. --From Chicago to Austin. I <3 harm reduction."
"Lethal doses of poverty, untreated trauma, anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric, and living in a world that values people over profit (AKA capitalism) is what has decimated my south Bronx community, not the alcohol/drugs themselves. We demand access, but we also demand a shift in culture."
"As a doctor I know that every single person infected with HCV would benefit from a cure. It breaks my heart to visit with a patient who I know should be cured and tell them that I can't get the medication and we have to wait."
"Societal stigma planted my son in hiding, remorse, and shame. Lack of treatment, humanity, and options landed him in jail. Lack of acceptance and peace drove him to the grave. My lack of understanding haunts me with regrets."
"Access to different options of medication-assisted treatment i.e. Suboxone is important because not everyone is going to fit in the same box! Some people need more intensive [treatment] than others do! We need to treat addiction like a disease and not an excuse to lock people up!
"I was adopted at the age of 3 yrs old. I was born down by the bill. as an Air Force brat I survived the streets of Washington, D.C. 14th St. straight up and down. I didn't know or used anything like drugs or smoking cigarettes. I was 22 yr and by having an educated mind the police of D.C. drove me to the ground. Hanging-on."
"I grew up in a home where drug abuse was normal. Now after prison, HIV, and Hep C I'm motivated to find another way and teach our youth about harm reduction. As a single mom of 2 there are a lot of things worth living for. A lesson to teach my children and my sister, along with my peers. I was recently treated for Hep C with Harvoni. I am considered cured."
"LGBTQ lives matter. And, without access to naloxone, one of our most vulnerable populations would be further marginalized. It saved the life of one of my dearest friends and can save the lives of many more. We demand access for all now!"
"There are barriers in accessing services in general for LGBTQ people, especially for transgender and gender non-conforming community members. We must work to make harm reduction services more accessible to LGBTQ people and I am grateful to be a part of that effort."