CHHSM Anti-Racism Center

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Harm Reduction

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Overview

“Harm reduction refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to minimize negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws. Harm reduction is grounded in justice and human rights–it focuses on positive change and on working with people without judgement, coercion, discrimination, or requiring that they stop using drugs as a precondition of support.” —Harm Reduction International

The first Harm Reduction Work Group started in San Francisco in 1993 with participants from diverse backgrounds of race, gender, and substance use experience. One of the clear connections the Harm Reduction movement makes is with the “war on drugs” and white supremacy and racism. The drug war has produced profoundly unequal outcomes across racial groups, manifested through racial discrimination by law enforcement, disproportionate incarceration, and policies targeted against communities of color.

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