Harm Reduction
Naloxone Access

AA&D's Global Harm Reduction Focus

Globally, there are close to half a million people that die each year as a result of drug use. In the U.S., drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.

This public health challenge is compounded by the lack of a comprehensive ability to cope with the tragic situation in an urgent fashion with the necessary care.  AA&D is committed to working in solidarity with partners to provide timely, comprehensive resources to drug users and their families. In the U.S., AA&D continues its work alongside the harm reduction community to identify new, patient-centered ways to expand access to the life-saving drug naloxone, and to facilitate its timely and effective use. This off-patent drug is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose and is remarkably effective, safe and easy to administer. Recent policy changes have advanced naloxone accessibility in the legal and regulatory environments, but economic and institutional realities keep the drug from being available where and when they are most needed for people. Lastly, AA&D is supporting civil society and government partners in Durban, South Africa in the design and planning of a comprehensive one-stop center of services for drug users and their families in the central business district.

Center for Harm Reduction Engagement

AA&D is working to create a Center for Harm Reduction Engagement that will prioritize practical, operational research, and personal engagement with users and their families and ultimately be a vehicle to advocate for stigma-shattering policy reform at the local, state and national level.

The Center allows AA&D to further engage university student advocates in North Carolina to build awareness around syringe exchange, naloxone access, alcohol and drug amnesty, and other important policies that affect drug users and their social networks. This initiative draws upon ongoing research being carried out by pharmacy students to better understand where the gaps in knowledge and practice are within pharmacy education and practice. The center aims to build direct paths for pharmacists and other health practitioners to help advance the decline and end of the opioid epidemic while also linking the public to community-based harm reduction efforts.

Harm Reduction Realities

  • Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the US

  • Drug overdose deaths have more than doubled since 1999 in the US

  • In 2015, 33,091, or 63%, of drug overdose deaths were associated with opiates

  • Naloxone can reverse overdose and is administered by laypersons with very little formal training needed

  • There is huge increase in the use of naloxone, but unreliable supply for groups that need more

  • AA&D is working to establish an affordable, sustainable supply of this critical drug through policy, economic and distributional innovations

Q: What is harm reduction?
A: To quote the National Harm Reduction Coalition, "Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.

Q: Doesn't providing naloxone encourage use of opioids by making its use safer?
A: Our priority is to save lives first and help ensure access to life-saving care in hospitals, prisons, and most importantly, where people live and work. The vigorous debate on use, recovery, and prohibition need not take place against the backdrop of tens of thousands of deaths. Timely naloxone interventions, like needle exchange programs, have a proven public health benefit and policy changes nationwide reflect the emerging consensus on this issue.

Harm Reduction Network

AA&D is working with a broader network that includes technical experts, advocates, and active users in order to make our efforts as effective as possible. This group includes, among many others: