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Written by Mannie Fresh, age 29, Durham, North Carolina

I'm a young black man raised in the poverty stricken communities of Durham NC.
I have been in trouble with the law a few times and am a recovering alcoholic. I have witnessed the life-styles of active drug users and also sex workers who sell their bodies for drugs or for money to be able to purchase drugs.
It's a sad sight to see active heroine users share the same needles time after time to inject themselves with a substance that their bodies have become chemically dependant upon or also to see the base user sharing the same pipe or stem until its piping hot and burns their lips, not knowing that there are risks associated with this type of using such as passing hepatitis C or HIV through the shared blood. I have sat in drug and prostitution houses trying to make a quick dollar not knowing that I was contributing to the diseases that plague those communities. This type of life-style eventually led to my incarceration.

 During my incarceration I met someone from the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition who educated me and others about the risk of using drugs and the associated risk of sharing drug utensils. I was surprise by the many risks that "users" take without knowing the consequences of sharing needles, stems, etc. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition had such a positive influence on me that I pursued the organization after my incarceration and became a volunteer to do out-reach in the same type of communities that I was raised in. I make people aware of the risks associated with needle sharing and stem sharing and pass out free condoms and HIV tests, etc. I believe that the NC Harm Reduction Coalition has made a direct and positive effect on the lives of people who live in high-risk environments by educating them and making available products that will ensure their safety and also by slowing down the spreading of infectious diseases in high risk communities. I give mega thumbs up to NCHRC. Keep up the good work!

Originally posted to NC Harm Reduction Coalition on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by HIV AIDS Action.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Harm reduction works better than abstinence (4+ / 0-)

    For most people anyway, complete abstinence can be very difficult. But why do we abstain? Because we don't want to do ourselves and others harm. But what if there were a way to reduce the amount of harm we do when using recreational substances?

    Look, I'll be blunt: you will never kick your food addiction. It's a very serious physical addiction, your body has gotten so used to using food that, if you were to try to quit cold turkey, you would DIE. Perhaps there is some way you can continue to use this substance, even for recreation, without hurting yourself as much. Perhaps you don't need to give up food altogether, maybe simply eating less and eating more nutritious food would be enough?

    So it is with any recreational substance. It is often much easier to reduce the harm you are causing yourself than it is to go cold turkey. But our present system denies this truth, much as it does with sex. Abstinence is the only legally and socially acceptable option. And so, no one discusses or thinks about the other option: using the substance responsibly and reducing the harm you cause yourself and others.

    And so millions end up trying abstinence, failing, and continuing to cause harm, when the answer might be as simple as "don't share needles" or "drink at home instead of driving to a bar."

    Thanks for this diary!

    •  Yes, and it allows users some modicum of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SethRightmer

      self-respect if they have enough control to minimize the effects of drug use even if they cannot eliminate it.  It is a starting point anyway.

      Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

      by judyms9 on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 01:54:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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