DOPE OCTOBER 2017 October 02 2017

This month we are raising money for The People's Harm Reduction Alliance, aka The University District Needle Exchange. PHRA is a volunteer/drug user run harm reduction program that has roots in the very first needle exchange program in the US (which started in Tacoma!). They provide empowering, non-judgmental services to anyone who needs them. I have had the great pleasure to volunteer with them a bit over the years and it is a really inspiring place, where people who use drugs are treated, you know, like actual human beings; treated with respect. The stigma of drug use in our culture cannot be overstated, it causes people deep psychological and physical harm on top of the substance abuse disorder they are already struggling with. I can think of one example where a woman with a severe wound infection on her leg said she would rather loose that leg than seek care at Harborview Medical Center because of the way she is treated there. Her story is not uncommon. PHRA's motto is " where love meets the streets", and it really is. Beyond giving out syringes, crack pipes, and supplies, they also provide Hepatitis C testing, wound care, Narcan (the medication that saves people from overdosing) referrals for substance abuse treatment, political advocacy on behalf of their clients, and they are in the beginning stages of creating a safe injection site. They provide a place for some of the most marginalized people in our city to build community, feel empowered to volunteer (drug users literally run their own syringe exchange), get treatment if wanted. But in my mind, the most powerful aspect of PHRA's work, is just simply providing a space where people feel loved, respected, and accepted for who they are and where they are. DopeMoments is thrilled to be supporting this amazing, super local organization, that practices Ahimsa (non-harming) and Aparigraha (non-grasping) in a big way every day. Namaste.