VOCAL’s NY Users Union is led by low-income people who are active and former drug users committed to a human rights and health-based approach to drug use. We are rooted in principles of harm reduction that affirms the dignity of everyone and views people as powerful agents to improve their own lives and communities, even if they continue actively using drugs. Harm reduction seeks to increase people’s ability to safely manage their use, including but not limited to abstinence, while recognizing how the broader social and political environment generates many of the harms related to drug use.
The war on drugs has created enormous barriers to housing, healthcare, employment and other basic rights for low-income people who are active or former drug users, while also increasing their risk for overdose, hepatitis C, HIV and other health problems. Despite relatively equal rates of drug use across race and ethnicity, people of color are disproportionately targeted for enforcement activities such as police harassment, arrest and incarceration.
Current campaign issues include:
- Syringe access and harm reduction
- Overdose prevention
- Improving methadone programs