Molecular model of heroin.

What are policies to help people who use heroin to stay safe?

Drug policies should be rooted in health, not criminalization.

There are many policies we can pass at the local, state, and federal level to help people who use heroin to stay safe.

  • Expand and protect 911 Good Samaritan laws,
  • Expand community-based naloxone access and distribution,
  • Expand access to methadone and buprenorphine,
  • Improve drug checking, surveillance and data collection and make them more widely accessible,
  • Authorize overdose prevention centers (OPC) on the state and local level,
  • Fund pilot injectable opioid treatment as an option for some people who use heroin.

Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) recommends a comprehensive, health-based response to the overdose crisis to keep people safe and healthy. There is growing public acceptance of the fact that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal one.

Unfortunately, some elected officials and members of law enforcement continue to call for draconian criminal policies to drive up support for policies that hurt people instead of helping them.

When it comes to heroin, we must ensure that any new laws take a health approach. This includes decriminalizing drugs, safer supply, overdose prevention centers, and harm reduction.

Reviewed and updated by Jules Netherland, PhD, and Dr. Sheila P. Vakharia on 5/2/2023.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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