Representing the Voice of the Family at the 2017 International Harm Reduction Conference #HR17

C_DNaZxXgAAUhpMRepresenting our family voices in the global harm reduction community, FSDP Co-Founder Barry Lessin and I enthusiastically attended the 2017 International Harm Reduction Conference #HR17 in Montreal, Canada, May 14-17, 2017.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘At the Heart of the Response’ and addressed “innovative harm reduction services, new or groundbreaking research, effective or successful advocacy campaigns and key policy discussions or debates. With delegates from more than 70 countries the programme not only reflects the truly global nature of our movement but also addresses key international issues”

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We had the opportunity to meet with our global partners Australian Family Drug Support (FDS) powerhouse Tony Trimingham (right) and Shaun Shelly (below) to identify the issues that are unique to families and bringing the family voice into our home communities. The inspirational and motivational moments were continued with a dynamic and thought provoking celebration of family empowerment that culminated in New York City May 20-21, 2017 with an extraordinary weekend filled with enlightenment and hope. Barry and I are energized and privileged to bring the FDS model of family support to our cherished friends here in the United States. We remain humbled and honored to serve our growing network of families who are asking for non judgmental alternatives to support optimal health and well being for their loved ones impacted by substance use while managing their own needs and self care in the process.

FSDP AC_9Zk_UUwAAB1qWdvisory Board member Shaun Shelly (whom we got to meet in person for the first time!) explaining the challenges and successes in his groundbreaking work in harm reduction service delivery to his native South Africa.

One of the highlights of #HR17 for many of the attendees was the dynamic presentation given by Andrew Tatarsky (right) on “The Scientific Revolution of Addiction Treatment”, exploring how his model os Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy 18558570_1716762775007021_2210259828598535816_o(IHRP) can enhance harm reduction services and make addiction/substance misuse treatment relevant to the majority of problematic drug users who have been turned off or hurt by traditional abstinence-only treatment.

18527769_1714581398558492_4107739766811187219_nPausing to honor the dedication and commitment of our global partners, appreciating the connection and spirit of compassion shared among cherished friends like Zeeshan Ayyaz Shani, who sadly could not attend because of visa related obstacles. Paying tribute to his courageous advocacy and extraordinary efforts on behalf of drug users in Pakistan through his exemplary work with Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA).

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Barry and Tony discussed the new collaboration of Tony’s Family Drug Support model of family support and FDSP’s commitment to bring strategies and solutions into the homes of our families!. Below, Tony joins me, Deborah Peterson Small, who spoke at a morning plenary on the global priorities of drug policy, and Ernie Drucker, valued mentor to FSDP and author of “A Plague of Prisons”. 
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Stay tuned for more about FSDP’s next steps in our collaboration with Tony’s Family Drug Support to empower families, restore health and save lives…

FSDP is the Voice of the Family at UNGASS 2016

ungass2016_0Families for Sensible Drug Policy (FSDP) is representing the voice of families impacted by substance use at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in New York City on April 19-21, 2016.

UNGASS 2016 is a meeting of the United Nations member states to assess and debate global issues such as health, gender, or in this case, the world’s drug control priorities.

The last time a special session on drugs was held, in 1998, its focus was the total elimination of drugs from the world. UNGASS 2016 Today, political leaders and citizens are pushing to rethink that ineffective and dangerous approach.

Why this summit matters

International debates on drugs are rarely more than reaffirmations of the established system. But 2016 is different because never before have so many governments voice displeasure with international drug control approaches. Never before, to this degree, have citizens around the world have put drug law reform on the agenda and passed regulatory proposals by referenda or popular campaigns. Never before have the health benefits of harm reduction approaches—which prevent overdose and transmission of diseases like HIV—been clearer. For the first time, there is significant dissent at the local, national, and international levels.

Why the family voice in drug policy matters

The role of the family is what is missing from much of the drug policy debate. Substance use doesn’t takes place in a vacuum but in the normal context of family life and relationships as well as the wider culture that the family resides in. Families are in a unique position to directly influence the development or resolution of substance use problems.

UNGASS 2016 held an Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation in February 2016 to give nonprofit and civil society organizations from around the world an opportunity to submit their statements and recommendations for drug policy reform. With the input and support of our diverse community of stakeholders and advocates, Barry Lessin made this statement at this meeting on behalf of the families of FSDP.
UNGASS Flyer

We will co-sponsor this Day of Protest and Action with the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, The Center for Optimal Living and Help Not Handcuffs culminating in a workshop that bridges the gap between public policy and our homes, between parents and children, and connects the voices of diverse impacted communities.