TODAY is International Harm Reduction Day. Harm reduction is DanceSafe’s core principle, but what is harm reduction? Harm reduction can broadly be defined as a set of morals and values that influence practices and policies acknowledging that: Drug use is a part of society regardless of prohibition, thus it is essential to employ pragmatic public health approaches to reduce health, social, and economic consequences associated with drug use. It’s important to remember that DanceSafe is about far more than just drug checking. From providing a ‘safe space’ for people having difficult experiences, to giving out tens of thousands of gallons of free water, to providing people with safer sex tools and resources, our services run the gamut of the harm reduction spectrum.
On International Harm Reduction Day 2015 (and everyday!), we should take a moment to remember all of the individuals we have lost, and also the sacrifices made by many selfless individuals who dedicate their lives to improving the quality of life for people who use drugs.
Activists are often arrested for the ‘crime’ of providing injection drug users with clean needles. Often after being arrested for ‘illegal’ needle exchange work, activists would use what became known as a “necessity defense.” The courts often agreed that although it was illegal to possess or distribute needles without a prescription, their motivation and interest in saving lives was more important than this law.
Currently, The Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003 (aka, The ‘RAVE Act’), makes some promoters extremely wary about allowing harm reduction services on site. Some promoters have even said they are scared to provide free water and chill-out rooms to avoid the perception that water and chill out rooms are needed for people who choose to use drugs. This is a battle in our nightlife community, and we are making strides towards change thanks to you! Do you have friends, family, or colleagues who haven’t signed the petition to amend ‘The RAVE’ Act? If so, they can help make change too! https://www.amendtheraveact.org/
You do not have to volunteer for a needle exchange or AIDS testing facility to get involved in harm reduction (although it’s a great way to do so)! There are lots of ways to introduce the principles of harm reduction in your own life. To start you out, I’ve come up with some ways to get you thinking about harm reduction and encourage you to participate in “Harm Reduction Day 2015.” Check out some ideas below:
What is the easiest way to participate? Talk to people. Ask questions. Understand where they are at in life and the struggles they face. Taking the time to care for others inspires .
Another great idea is to learn how to flex your rights! Touch up on the best way to keep yourself safe, and if you want to take things a step further share what you learn with your friends:
You can practice and/ or advocate for safer sex. Encourage your friends to get tested and to know their bodies.
You could hand out bandaids, clean socks, blankets or water bottles to the homeless. Do you know how much harm one bandaid can reduce??
You could watch and share a campaign video:
Shelley Goldsmith’s Parents Discuss Molly, Harm Reduction:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzaqjLoYiUU
How small is the hep C virus?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNJusRNdvds
Hand washing: spot the difference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjgXRfYF-lc
(26:51) Ethan Nadelmann: Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Reform:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qgg6cHZ57lA
Take your test kit out for a walk! Teach people something new. (The kits test for presence of substances not listed as well; make sure you’re not giving out false information, and that you’re using the chemicals safely).
Below is a guide designed for parents approaching their children. I believe it is a really good resource both for parental education and to help reduce problematic drug use and introduce harm reduction strategies into the lives of those around you. The publication is available in PDF form in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, Russian, Czech and Greek. You could share this far and wide:
Have another idea? Let DanceSafe know…we love to see your creative sides shine too!
Happy International Harm Reduction Day everyone!!!
“Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination, but by resonance.” – The Invisible Committee