Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction

Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction

by Maia Szalavitz
Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction

Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction

by Maia Szalavitz


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From “one of the bravest, smartest writers about addiction anywhere” (Johann Hari, New York Times bestselling author)—the untold story of harm reduction, a surprisingly simple idea with enormous power

Drug overdoses now kill more Americans annually than guns, cars or breast cancer. But we have tried to solve this national crisis with policies that only made matters worse. In the name of “sending the right message,” we have maximized the spread of infectious disease, torn families apart, incarcerated millions of mostly Black and Brown people—and utterly failed to either prevent addiction or make effective treatment for it widely available.
There is another way, one that is proven to work. However, it runs counter to much of the received wisdom of our criminal and medical industrial complexes. It is called harm reduction. Developed and championed by an outcast group of people who use drugs and by former users and public health geeks, harm reduction offers guidance on how to save lives and improve health. And it provides a way of understanding behavior and culture that has relevance far beyond drugs.
In a spellbinding narrative rooted in an urgent call to action, Undoing Drugs tells the story of how a small group of committed people changed the world, illuminating the power of a great idea. It illustrates how hard it can be to take on widely accepted conventional wisdom—and what is necessary to overcome this resistance. It is also about how personal, direct human connection and kindness can inspire profound transformation. Ultimately, Undoing Drugs offers a path forward—revolutionizing not only the treatment of addiction, but also our treatment of behavioral and societal issues.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780738285764
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 07/27/2021
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,082,462
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Maia Szalavitz is the author or coauthor of eight books, including the bestseller Unbroken Brain and the classic on child trauma, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, which she wrote with Bruce D. Perry. She has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Scientific American, the Atlantic, TIME, The Guardian, and VICE.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Introduction 1

1 Facing AIDS 13

2 Undoing Powerlessness 32

3 Undoing Addiction 44

4 The Goddess of Harm Reduction 59

5 ACT UP and the Johnny Appleseed of Needles 76

6 The Trial of the Needle Eight 90

7 Exposing Racism in the Drug War 111

8 Housing Works 122

9 The Heiress and the Biker 136

10 Any Positive Change 144

11 Refining Harm Reduction 152

12 Undoing Overdose 161

13 Undoing Treatment 173

14 Come as You Are 185

15 Nothing about Us without Us 200

16 Undoing Tough Love 212

17 Undoing Pain Care 230

18 Undoing Overdose, Part 2 253

19 Undoing Divisions 263

20 Redoing Organizing 273

21 The American Challenge 291

22 Redoing the Future 302

Acknowledgments 325

Notes 329

Index 359

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