Start a Harm Reduction Program
There are hundreds of harm reduction programs across the country, but many communities still have limited or no access to these services.
If you love people who use drugs, consider learning more about how to start a syringe service program (SSP) or naloxone distribution program in your community.
Check for an Existing Program.
Start by learning about any local SSPs or community-based naloxone programs in your area.
This page provides maps of syringe service programs across the country.
If you find a local program, consider partnering up instead of starting from scratch.
Understand Policy in Your State.
After you’ve connected with any existing programs in your area (or identified they don’t exist), learn more about what harm reduction policy looks like in your state.
Read these Guides.
Learn more about what it takes to implement harm reduction programs and practical tips to get started.
Open Society Foundations
Hold Up a Mirror.
We know that programs are the most effective at engaging people who use drugs when they meaningfully involve people who use drugs.
Reflect on why you’re interested in starting a harm reduction program, your capacity, your experience, and who you’re partnering with. Start asking yourself some questions.
What is my motivation to start a harm reduction program?
How do I know there’s a need?
Who else may already be doing this kind of work but not calling it harm reduction?
Who am I partnering with to make this happen? How are people who use drugs included in this process?
Do I/we understand the difference between harm reduction services and the Harm Reduction movement? How are we applying the Harm Reduction values and approach to our process early on?
How are we applying a racial justice lens early on? Are we including people of color meaningfully and in positions of power and decision-making?
Am I and/or Is our team reflective of the community that would be receiving harm reduction services?
What kind of support will I/we need for now and a year from now?
What kind of model may make sense for my community? Who am I asking to answer this question?
What do I need to get started?
Connect with Us.
We love to support programs early in their process so they start off with best practices in services and team building. Learn more about what resources we may be able to offer and get connected with others who may have gone through a similar process.