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Home » Community Blog » #PeersInThePandemic Demand 4 – NO to Punitive Measures in Harm Reduction

#PeersInThePandemic Demand 4 – NO to Punitive Measures in Harm Reduction


For too long harm reduction programs have emphasised social control over the right to health. Punitive measures in harm reduction have restricted people from accessing services such as OAT. COVID-19 has shown these restrictions have always been unnecessary. We demand an end to compulsory urine testing, age limitations, HIV/HCV testing, non-consensual discharges, mandatory attendance, forced reductions, transfer refusals and other stigmatising & exclusionary practices in harm reduction.

Hashtag of the week: #RightsNotControl
Please use this along with #PeersInThePandemic and #HarmReduction all week

Sample social media text:

  • #HarmReduction means saving lives, not controlling them. End punitive measures in harm reduction NOW #RightsNotControl #PeersInThePandemic
  • #COVID19 has proven mandatory attendance was never necessary in #HarmReduction. End social control over peers in harm reduction #RightsNotControl #PeersInThePandemic
  • Compulsory urine testing violates the right to privacy for people accessing #HarmReduction #RightsNotControl #PeersInThePandemic
  • Young people deserve the right to practice #HarmReduction without fear of reprisal. End age limitations and other unnecessary restrictions NOW #RightsNotControl #PeersInThePandemic
  • No one should be denied health services based on stigma, especially during #COVID19. #RightsNotControl #PeersInThePandemic

Relevant data collected from INPUD’s peer research on COVID-19.

  • Peers who live in countries which loosened or suspended punitive requirements in harm reduction programmes indicated such changes reduced their health costs, required them to travel less and made it easier to comply with lockdown measures without sacrificing their health and dignity.
  • Respondents indicated punitive harm reduction measures put people who use drugs at increased risk of punishment by the state just for accessing health services. Travel restrictions and increased police presences to enforce lockdown measures means limitations on harm reduction access are more heavily enforced than ever. 

Click here to return to the #PeersInThePandemic Campaign Hub