Skip to content ↓

Harm Reduction Saves Lives

On February 14th Vital Strategies launched the “Support Harm Reduction” campaign, an innovative national U.S. campaign to promote harm reduction. It comes at a pivotal moment in the overdose crisis as deaths per year top 100,000 and harm reduction—at long last—is gaining credibility and momentum among policymakers. Our goal is to spark the policymaker attention and public support needed to put harm reduction at the center of overdose response.

The campaign features a full-page ad in the New York Times with the faces of more than 200 harm reduction practitioners, touching video ads featuring harm reduction workers that will air more than 6000 times in Washington, D.C. on television [see below] and digitally to reach 37 million people through podcasts and YouTube. We are also launching an online Overdose Memorial, inspired by the AIDS quilt, where people can post the memory of a loved one lost to overdose and call for action in their name.

“With overdose deaths topping 100,000 a year, we are beyond the moment of reckoning with our failure to address drug use as a health issue,” said Dr. Daliah Heller, Vice President of Drug Use Initiatives at Vital Strategies. “We need a wholesale shift away from the punitive, carceral approach to drug use, and toward public health strategies rooted in compassion and dignity.”

Every five and a half minutes, someone dies from a drug overdose in the United States. Overdose deaths are at the highest ever on record. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if harm reduction measures were in place. Rather than stigmatizing and punishing people who use drugs, we must offer a supportive, health-based response. 

Learn more from our press release.

What To Watch

Hear from three people whose lives were saved by harm reduction, and who have given back by practicing in their own communities. These ads are running in mass media in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and on digital media in five states.

Support Harm Reduction: Acxel

Support Harm Reduction: Nicole

Support Harm Reduction: Terrell

Expert Focus

Learn more from our experts about crucial aspects of the response to the U.S. overdose crisis.

VitalTalks: Turning the Tide on the U.S. Overdose Crisis

50 Years of the War on Drugs: Vital Experts Explain Stigma, Racial Justice and the Need for Public Health Approach to Ending Overdose 

Pennsylvania to Allow Naloxone to Be Obtained by Mail in Effort to Reduce Overdose Deaths

New project in Michigan seeks community-driven response to drug use and overdose as overdose deaths surge amidst COVID-19  

Naloxone Trainings are Crucial to Saving Lives from Overdose: Q&A with Esther Mae Rosner 


What is Harm Reduction? 

Survival Strategies While Using Drugs Alone from People Who Use Drugs 

Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Jails and Prisons: A Planning and Implementation Toolkit 

Harm Reduction is Healthcare: Sustainable Financing for Harm Reduction Programs 

COVID-19 Harm Reduction Toolkit