Harm Reduction in New York

Activists gather outside New York City Hall to promote harm reduction and end overdose. (Photo by Erik McGregor)

Harm reduction is a public health philosophy and intervention that seeks to reduce the harms associated with drug use and ineffective drug policies. In New York State, drug policies are dominated by the criminal justice system and often contradictory.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is pushing for a coordinated drug policy rooted in public health and aimed at improving the health and safety of the individuals, families and communities of New York.

Reducing Accidental Overdose Deaths

Accidental overdose deaths are the leading cause of accidental death in New York State, exceeding even motor vehicle accidents. Many of these deaths are preventable, but most people witnessing a drug overdose don’t call for emergency assistance. Why? Studies have found that for those witnessing a drug overdose, the majority hesitate to call emergency services due to fear of police arrest or criminal prosecution for drug possession.
    
In 2017, DPA and our local partners took action to save lives creating a statewide coalition called EndOverdoseNY. Drug Policy Alliance is building a robust platform to deal with the overdose crisis in multiple communities, including but not limited to those within the homeless population, correctional facilities or criminal justice involved, and in urban, rural, and suburban communities. 

Learn more about EndOverdoseNY and join the campaign here.

Building Understanding of the Experiences of People who Use Drugs

In partnership with our local allies – VOCAL-NY and Peer Network of NY – we are working to reduce the stigma associated with drug use and people who use drugs. DPA conducts tours for elected officials and organizations focusing on New York harm reduction organizations and the history of harm reduction advocacy in the state. For information about our tours, please contact nys@drugpolicy.org.

DPA believes that language is a key tool in fighting stigma and saving lives. In partnership with the Peer Network of NY, we created a glossary outlining ways to talk about people who use drugs, drug use, and drugs themselves. Through public education campaigns like NY’s Safe Shape tour we hope to build understanding around public health and harm reduction interventions like supervised consumption sites.

Harm Reduction