Lauren Porter

I will be graduating with a degree in social work and political science next month from the
University of Southern Maine. l have been working within the recovery committee in a variety of roles over the past few years Last summer and fall, I attended conferences on harm reduction, and I was immediately hooked on the concept and the research behind it.

This is an evidence-based practice grounded in a public health approach rather than
a criminalized one. It’s clear that what we are doing has not been working. The War on Drugs has failed; it has failed our country, our communities, and the individuals we are sworn to serve. We saw 418 Mainers die last year due to overdoses, and we are on track to exceed that this year. I would argue that these were all preventable. With access to harm reduction information and increased availability of social services, many of these deaths would not have happened.

Why have overdose prevention sites? It seems like something unheard of – why would we
create a space for people to use drugs? When we identify the risks of drug use – overdose,
public injection and littering, reusing supplies, and disease transmission – all of these can be
mitigated by overdose prevention sites.

It is time to change our approach. Two people in our state will die today. lt is time to do
something different.

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