Beyond harm reduction: the travels of THN in the recovering community

First published: 30 March 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019


Nancy D. Campbell is Professor of Science and Technology Studies in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She is a historian of science who focuses on addiction research in the books: Discovering Addiction: The Science and Politics of Substance Abuse Research (University of Michigan Press, 2007); gender and drug policy in Using Women: Gender, Drug Policy, and Social Justice (Routledge, 2000) and with Elizabeth Ettorre, Gendering Addiction: The Politics of Drug Treatment in a Neurochemical World (Palgrave, 2011); and the history of treatment with co-authors JP Olsen and Luke Walden, The Narcotic Farm: The Rise and Fall of America’s First Prison for Drug Addicts (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2008).

Presentation Summary

Harm reduction groups have typically promoted naloxone access in the United States, working since the late 1990s through an underground distribution channel anchored by the Chicago Recovery Alliance. As opioid overdose became an aboveground issue, often due to symbolic, high-profile overdose events, harm reduction and public health activists worked to enroll local and state officials in starting THN programs throughout the United States. Recently, however, there has been an unanticipated turn as harm reduction is moving into the anonymous, abstinence-based recovery community. Committed to long-term drug-free lifestyles, some cutting-edge recovery-based organizations are now advocating THN. The ways in which these commitments are expressed is shape-changing due to the policy environment and a rapidly professionalizing framework of “Recovery Support Service” delivery. What will THN look like and how will it change as it moves out of the harm reduction community?


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