We Need Harm Reduction for All Drugs, Not Just Opioids

By Olivia Pennelle: For More Info, Go Here…

While we’ve made great strides with harm reduction for people who use opioids, we’re slow to provide non-abstinence-based treatment for people who use other drugs.

Our approach to recovery has been too one-dimensional.

A quick glance at the news reveals the catastrophic effects of opioids across the nation: around 120 people a day die from opioid-related overdoses. It’s so devastating that the nation is calling it an opioid epidemic. Yet even as we watch this tragedy unfold, we’re missing the point.

By focusing exclusively on opioids, we’re overlooking the harm caused by other deadly drugs. How can we highlight harm reduction resources if we only focus our efforts on people who use one class of drug?

we are focusing too narrowly on the harms caused by one drug and are blinding ourselves to the impact of other deadly drugs. We should be reporting on those, too.

A more accurate picture of drug-related deaths in 2017, according to the CDC, looks like this:

  • Alcohol was responsible for the deaths of 88,000 people
  • Cocaine misuse killed 13,942 people
  • Benzodiazepine misuse was responsible for 11,537 deaths
  • Psychostimulant misuse, including methamphetamines, was responsible for 10,333 deaths.

Those aren’t insignificant numbers, so why are they being overlooked? I asked recovery activist Brooke Feldman for her perspective.

“The sensationalized and narrow focus on opioids fails to account for the fact that people who develop an opioid use disorder typically used other drugs before and alongside opioids,” Feldman said. “So, we really have a polysubstance use situation, not merely an opioid use situation.”

She continues, “Focusing on opioids only had led to the erection of an opioid-only infrastructure that will be useless for the next great drug binge and is barely relevant to address the deadliest drug used, which is alcohol.”

Leave a Reply