In response to the question “How many people have died using the needles you give out?”

In response to the question “How many people have died using the needles you give out?”
That is not a meaningful, pertinent question, because it is not the needle that is causing the explosion in fatalities in the US. It is the continuation of 150 years of racialized drug policy that is killing us. It is the attendant stigma and criminalization that pushes people into the shadows,into cages, and vilifies and dehumanizes them, that has increased fatalities. It is lack of access to sterile supplies that kills us. It is drug prohibition leading to adulterated drug supplies that is killing us. It is lack of access to MAT that kills us. It is not being able to speak honestly about our drug use that is killing us. It is a broken health care (including mental health care) system that kills us. It is untreated trauma that is killing us. It is food and housing insecurity that is killing us. It is the myopic obsession with abstinence and subsequent lack of education about harm reduction that kills our friends and family members. It is being treated like the worst piece of shit everywhere we go, day after day, year after year, that kills us. It’s not being able to talk openly to loved ones and professionals alike about our difficulties that kills us. It is the belief that we must purposefully disable and abandon people who use drugs to “help” them hit bottom that leaves us more vulnerable to death. It is ignoring science in favor of random Facebook opinions that kills us. It is a complicated and long story, but in the end it is a history of racism, of colonialism, of greed, of religious bigotry, of moral posturing and of human rights being trampled by those with political ambitions and an unquenchable thirst for power that is killing us. You see, our deaths have very little to do with needles at all.

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