This year’s conference theme reflects the importance of honoring the roots of harm reduction. We are thrilled to see harm reduction discourse and practice entering the broader workplace and world. At the same time we must reconnect to the grassroots of harm reduction, that is, people as experts in their own lives helping one another and informing our practice.
This was a timely topic for me and, I believe, the broader harm reduction movement, with a lot of rich discussions throughout the day and an agenda anchored in social justice principles. I left feeling inspired and challenged, with new ideas and questions and connections.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately wondering what harm reduction means in 2016, and where it’s going. As the conference organizers noted, harm reduction has been going through a wave of success and visibility in the United States recently, particularly around syringe exchange and naloxone access. Much of this stems from the space opened up by the prescription opioid and heroin crisis and its particular geographic, demographic and political contours. This has pulled the harm reduction field towards the center of drug and public health policy after years — decades — of marginalization.