Harm Reduction Coalition's Latest "Communication" Now Available, Newsletter Provides Insights, Questions 3/30/01

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The Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC), the nationwide network of service providers, current and former drug users, methadone consumers, health care workers and medical professionals, drug treatment specialists, activists and community organizers, as well as policymakers, researchers, academics, and legal professionals committed to harm reduction principles, this week announced the release of the latest issue of the "Harm Reduction Communication," the group's occasional publication.

The Communication is a forum for both harm reductionists working in the trenches in needle exchange programs, methadone centers, and other programs and for those interested in larger political and theoretical issues related to harm reduction and drug policy reform. Articles in the current issue range from common-sense advice pieces such as "Heating Drug Solutions is Good Harm Reduction!" to research reports such as "Reducing the Risks of Self-Medication: Clinical Trials" and "Let's Get Real: Looking at the Lives of Pregnant Drug Users."

The latter piece, based on surveys with 126 drug-using pregnant women, explores the various ways drug use both helps these women cope with their lives (as a survival strategy in grim circumstances, as self-medication, and to gain a sense of control over their lives) and exposes them to a triple-whammy of stigmatization -- as women, as pregnant women and as drug-using pregnant women. Not surprisingly, the authors find that existing social service models fail to adequately address the problems of this group.

Paul Cherashore's "Letter from the Editor" provides another thoughtful and provocative piece, this one on organizing drug users and the complicated issues that can arise when active drug users are involved in harm reduction organizations. Drug using activists fear they are a potential liability for harm reduction groups, writes Cherashore, because their public presence could threaten funding or cause critical scrutiny of the organizations for whom they work. But, asks Cherashore, if active drug users cannot play a role in the harm reduction movement, then where?

According to Harm Reduction Coalition executive director Allan Clear, the Communication, which has appeared sporadically over the past few years, will now be appearing on a regular quarterly schedule. It has a readership of 25,000, both HRC members and non-members, Clear told DRCNet.

And they are seeking submissions for the next issue, Fall 2001, which will concentrate on harm reduction and women. HRC is "actively seeking articles, essays, interviews, and reporting, up to 4000 words in length. We invite drug users (and ex-users) to submit pieces based on experience: personal & political. We are especially interested in hearing from people on the front lines, be it on the street, in prison, or in drug treatment programs. Please encourage your program's participants to submit, and/or submit something yourself. We want to hear about your lives!"

"Personal accounts describing encounters with social service agencies, health care and treatment providers, the criminal justice system, public health bureaucracies, etc. and/or creative & provocative explorations of programs that really work (especially drug treatment and housing and healthcare services for active users), the prison -industrial complex, the role of active drug users in the harm reduction field, the relationship between harm reduction and drug policy reform & whatever else is on your mind. How-to information services recipients can use to improve the quality of their lives: safer use info, tips on accessing services, use management techniques... We are also seeking artwork."

The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2001. For questions or assistance, or to make submissions, contact Cherashore at Harm Reduction Coalition, 22 West 27th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10001, (212) 213 6376 ext. 16, fax: 212 213 6582 or [email protected]. Copies of Harm Reduction Communication are available at the same address, or can be found at http://www.harmreduction.org/newsletter.html online.

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