Dan Bigg to Receive Award at International Drug Policy Reform Conference for Life-Saving Work on Naloxone Distribution

Press Release November 12, 2015
Media Contact

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<p>Tony Newman (646)335-5384<br />
Tommy McDonald (510)338-8827</p>

D.C. Metro Area – The Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine will be awarded to Dan Bigg at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference on November 21, 2015, in Arlington, VA.

Dan Bigg is being honored for his life-saving work expanding access to naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. He helped found the Chicago Recovery Alliance in 1992 and has been the director ever since, expanding the practice of harm reduction in Chicago and around the world and defining recovery as “any positive change.” He is the instigator of community-distributed naloxone in the United States and responsible for saving the lives of tens of thousands of people. His career has been marked by his unwavering dedication to assisting people who use drugs in doing everything they can to improve their health, safety, and overall wellbeing.

In 1996 in response to the death of the Chicago Recovery Alliance’s co-founder John Szyler, Bigg worked with medical doctors and others to figure out how to distribute naloxone to people who would use it the most effectively to save lives — people who use drugs.

“If you know what naloxone is or have ever heard of Narcan, that’s because of the work of Dan Bigg” said Laura Thomas, California deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “If, like me, you carry naloxone around with you every day, that is definitely because of Dan Bigg. And if you are alive today because your overdose was reversed by a friend with naloxone, that was because of Dan Bigg.”

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. But thanks to the work Dan Bigg has done, we are beginning to see a national shift embracing harm reduction tools like naloxone. From working with drugs users in other countries to driving a van to Southern Indiana to help stop the HIV outbreak there, Bigg has never shied away from stepping forward to help people who use drugs. He has been an iconoclastic leader in the harm reduction movement, pushing aside moralistic notions about drug use to do what is right. He is an inspiration and a life-saver and a hero.

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting policy alternatives to the drug war, bestows the biennial Norman E. Zinberg Award to medical and treatment experts who see beyond politics and make great contributions to the fields of science and medicine. Previous recipients include: psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist and author Dr. Julie Holland, MAPS founder Rick Doblin, Ph.D., clinical professor of Internal Medicine Andrew Weil, M.D., among other distinguished honorees.

The International Drug Policy Reform Conference, co-hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance in Arlington, VA from Nov. 18-21, 2015, brings together more than 1200 leading international experts, treatment providers, researchers, policymakers and key activists at the leading global forum on drug policy reform. For more information or to register for the conference, please visit: www.reformconference.org.

For complete list of award honorees, please visit: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2015/11/leading-drug-policy-reformers-be-honored-international-drug-policy-reform-conference-wa

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

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