Pubdate: Mon, 13 Jun 2016
Source: Metro (Calgary, CN AB)
Page: 5
Copyright: 2016 Metro Canada
Author: Brodie Thomas


Policies to Help Addicts Fights Stigma Faced by Drug Users

We all wear seat belts when we get in a car - just in case the worst 
should happen.

That's the philosophy behind harm reduction, according to Stasha Huntingford.

"It can't reduce all the risk but it can reduce some of the harm," 
said Huntingford.

She was spreading the message of harm reduction for drug users and 
the homeless at the third annual National Harm Reduction Day.

Several dozen people gathered in Olympic Plaza to hear speakers talk 
about harm-reduction methods such as clean needle exchanges.

Huntingford said the No. 1 thing standing in the way of getting help 
for people is stigma. She said it tends to be the root of all 
problems she sees.

For example, she said, LGBT indigenous youth are overrepresented in 
the homeless population because of rejection on an individual and social level.

Huntingford is taking doctoral studies with the faculty of social 
work at the University of Calgary. Her research is with frontline 
youth workers.

She said she's seen policies remain unchanged for 20 years but is 
hopeful the tide is turning.

"We have a little bit more hope going forward with the federal 
government at this time, but it remains to be seen what happens with 
issues like legalizing marijuana," she said.

Randy Pages, a member of local harm-reduction group Grateful or Dead, 
said he's seen the philosophy of harm-reduction work.

"Harm Reduction is a movement for social justice built on a respect 
for the rights of people who use drugs," he said.

Pages, formerly homeless and a recovering alcoholic, now spends 
several days each week doing outreach with Grateful or Dead by 
handing out clean needles and condoms.

"We want them to stay alive long enough to get clean," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom