You may have read the Denver Post's Series, Heroin in Denver. If you haven't, read it.
Please find our response below. The entire staff drafted this letter, and it was printed one week later.
As the primary syringe exchange in Denver that servers the injection drug users, we were disappointed by your series.
Continously putting the term "harm reduction" in quotes throughout your story implies that 25 years of hard science and strong public health policy is just a passing fad. There is a lot of life that happens between prevention and treatment, as was documented in your story. Reducing the harm associated with injection drug use is sound public health. This story was exploitative and unhelpful; frankly, it was little more than injection drug user porn.
As harm reductionists, we seek to reclaim people now, in their use, to keep them free from HIV and viral hepatitis, to provide them with health, dignity, human connection, and rehabilitation. Abstinence is a friend of harm reduction, but it isn't a requirement.
The list of options provided by your article was treatment-oriented only, perpetuating the false idea that treatment options are readily accessible to those who do seek abstinence, and showing a narrow scope of the reality of injection drug use in Denver. As a syringe exchange, we are smack dab in the middle of reality. Join us.
We need to start electing officials that represent society’s concerns.
Your vote is your voice.
They say, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Please voice your opinions to our local media and local government officials for continued coverage of the human rights issue for injection drug users.
Harm Reduction Coalition
International Overdose Awareness Day 2013
The Network for Public Health Law
Colorados fight for third party naloxone legislation
Colorado Public Radio