Get the Facts. Share the Facts.

Sharing factual information is a helpful way to spread awareness about the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies.

Overdose deaths are preventable.

67,367

fatal overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2018

20-40%

fewer fatal overdoses from opioids where community-based naloxone distribution programs operate.

People who use drugs and their loved ones are the first responders to the overdose crisis.

Hepatitis C virus is preventable, treatable and curable.

3.5x

increase in reports of acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) cases from 2010-2016

6x

higher rate of incarceration for drug charges for Black people in the US, despite the same rate of substance use.

People of color, unhoused people, LGB/TNGC+ people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups are disproportionately harmed by the criminalization of drug use.

Harm Reduction Basics

Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.

Understand the principles of harm reduction

Challenge Stigma and Change the Narrative about People Who Use Drugs

Your words have power.

Members of the media have a profound ability to influence public perceptions. That’s why it’s important to be responsible with the words and images you choose to tell the stories of people who use drugs.

Did you know?

The AP Stylebook released in 2017 made a change stating that the media should no longer use stigmatizing language because of the impact on individuals and policy.

The AP Stylebook instructs the use of person-first language like a person who uses drugs and the avoidance of stigmatizing words like alcoholic, addict, and abuser.

The AP Stylebook instructs the use of the word use or misuse in place of abuse and suggests an appropriate modifier like heavy or problematic.

“These changes aren’t merely semantics or political correctness. Widespread media misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of addiction has led to some deadly misconceptions about how it should be managed.”

– The Associated Press

Why We Use Person-First Language

People are more than their behavior and harm reduction focuses on the whole person. Everyone is a person first and behavior can be changed. Using words like addict or user implies the person is something instead of someone. Stigma is a real barrier to care and people who use drugs must feel safe and welcome to access services.

A Continuum of Language About Drug Use

People use drugs for an array of reasons and not everyone who uses drugs is addicted to them. Understanding where a person is on this continuum helps us meet people where they are.

No Use

Experimental or Situational

Social

Ritual Binge

Ritual Binge

Habitual Daily

Chaotic/Persistent

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

We are working on a library of positive images you can use for your articles. In the meantime, we have a few recommendations you can follow for choosing imagery in a responsible way.

Credit: Luceo

Image recommendations:

Choose images that honor the experiences and dignity of people who use drugs.

Bring light to the harm reduction community.

Be considerate of visual aversions and sensational imagery.

Photos in this library are free to use with attribution. Please do not alter images or remove branding. Be sure to attribute image credit to the artist or photographer where specified or to National Harm Reduction Coalition.

For information about commercial use, please email communications@harmreduction.org.

Harm Reduction Needs You. Join the Movement.

Become a Harm Reduction Champion

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