What Is National Harm Reduction Coalition?
National Harm Reduction Coalition is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes the wellbeing and dignity of people and communities affected by drug use. Our efforts advance harm reduction policies, practices, and programs that address the adverse effects of drug use including overdose, HIV, hepatitis C, substance use, and incarceration. Recognizing that social inequality and injustice magnify drug related harm and limit the voice of our most vulnerable communities, we work to uphold every individual’s right to health and their competence to participate in the public policy dialogue.
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.
People who use drugs and their loved ones are the first responders to the overdose crisis.
Hepatitis C virus is preventable, treatable and curable.
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.
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.
Experimental or Situational
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.
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 email@example.com.
Recent Harm Reduction Announcements
Practical Steps to Center Trans and Non-Binary People in Harm Reduction Spaces
Written by: Brooke Alexandria Paine (she/her), Program Assistant with editorial support from, Nathalia Gibbs (they/them), LGBTQ.
A Year of Resilience: The Work of 2020 with National Harm Reduction Coalition
The harm reduction community faced deep loss and pain together in 2020. At the same time, the ways we continued to care and show up for each other.