Politicising self-care, a concept drawn from feminist movements, means equipping people who use drugs with the tools and knowledge they need to support themselves as individuals. This in turn leads to stronger leaders, more effective organisations and ultimately more impactful advocacy achievements. It also means building an internal and external positive identity for people who use drugs, where we fight back against the shame and stigma we have been conditioned to internalise.

Balancing the Scales works from a theory of change which emphasises the well being of individuals as a first step towards fostering strong movements leading to better defense of rights, health and services for people who use drugs.

SELF –> RELATIONSHIP –> LEADERSHIP — > ORGANISATION –> COMMUNITY

Everything starts with putting the self first to create stronger, contained individuals with higher emotional intelligence and influencing skills. This in turn leads to stronger working and private relationships, which lead to strong support systems fostering grounded and supported individuals. Supported individuals are then able to step in and lead, creating strong emerging leadership which builds more impactful organisations and movements. This leads to better defense of rights and health for people who use drugs, with service delivery focus on each individual and qualitative care bringing everything back full circle to putting the self first.

In January 2022 a pilot workshop of Balancing the Scales was launched by INPUD with logistical assistance provided by the Kenya Network of People who Use Drugs and VOCAL Kenya. Support also came from Frontline AIDS and Alkimia, who have been involved in the development of Balancing the Scales from the beginning.

The pilot workshop was attended by representatives from the: Kenya Network of People who Use Drugs, Network of Asian People who Use Drugs, South African Network of People who Use Drugs, Latin American People who Use Drugs, African Network of People who Use Drugs, Empower Cameroon, Drug Harm Reduction Advocacy Network Nigeria, and International Network of People who Use Drugs.

Watch below to hear, in their own words, the excitement people have for the program:

The next Balancing the Scales workshop was held May 2022 in Kenya, and aimed to train facilitators who can in turn conduct further trainings in their countries and communities. It was attended by members of the: Kenya Network of People who Use Drugs, Network of Asian People who Use Drugs, South African Network of People who Use Drugs, Empower Cameroon, Drug Harm Reduction Advocacy Network Nigeria, and International Network of People who Use Drugs.

“This workshop and manual changed the whole way I see programmatic work. Advocacy needs to be community-led, needs to reduce self-stigma and increase self-awareness. The Balancing the Scales model creates a vocal community that we can call on. The question is now how to get it to the community. We need to change the support group approach and make it more personal, and stop talking at people without knowing anything.”

– Participant from Drug Harm Reduction Advocacy Network Nigeria

“This is the missing piece – we have been doing this work for so long but we needed the right tools. This converges everything that we need. We have been doing network building, we have been doing community engagement, but we have not had the tool to do the work well.”

– Participant from the South African Network of People who Use Drugs

Balancing the Scales will impact harm reduction in my country. Equipping communities with their own psychological hacks and knowledge leads to better access to services, increases safer drug use, reconnects people through social integration, cascades a positive drug-user identity to the broader society which in turn creates a broader network of support for advocacy.”

– Participant from the Kenya Network of People who Use Drugs

INPUD is currently planning two additional, concurrent facilitator trainings in Africa with sixteen attendees each. Participants will then use the skills learned in the training to run their own workshops upon returning to their countries and communities. By training more facilitators who can comfortably run their own workshops, we will help make Balancing the Scales an accessible, self-sustaining training and resource for people who use drugs everywhere with expansion envisioned to next come to the Asia Pacific and Latin America and Caribbean regions. INPUD will continue providing financial and technical support to networks of people who use drugs to conduct these trainings.

In order to do this, we will need your support. Making a donation to INPUD today will help us to:

• Arrange flights, accommodations, per diem and visa arrangements for training participants at local, national and regional levels
• Pay for training venues and facilitators
• Publish training materials in print and online
• Follow up with attendees with further support as needed
• Establish an online and social media presence for Balancing the Scales to make training materials accessible