Episodic livestream reconsiders abstinence-based drug education, in favor of modern harm reduction framework
New York, NY - Coinciding with National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week, global mental health advocacy nonprofit Made of Millions, in partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), has launched First of All -- a web series hosted by DPA's Safety First Senior Program Manager, Sasha Simon. The first episode went live March 30, and will continue with new episodes being live streamed on YouTube every Monday. The program addresses drug use, drug policy, and mental health with a destigmatized approach based in harm reduction.
“Our goal is to make harm reduction-based drug education resources as accessible as possible, and the reality is that most young people receive their information online,” says Simon. “In our collaboration with Made of Millions developing First of All, we found a way to communicate the greater cultural, political, and scientific forces affecting drug use and why it is time to reconsider how we teach Americans about drugs.”
Made of Millions, known best for its success in democratizing mental health resources, decided to expand its online programming with DPA to highlight the intersectionality of mental health narratives. “Historically, mental health conversations have been kept separate from topics such as race, class, incarceration and addiction,” explains Lauren O’Shaughnessy, co-founder of Made of Millions. “But we believe it’s imperative to diversify the mental health conversations we see online and uplift other advocates and organizations doing crucial work in these spaces.”
Initial episodes of First of All feature discussions on “What is Harm Reduction?,” “How Drugs Work,” “Why We Cope,” and “How We Cope,” with each entry incorporating DPA resources, including guest speakers and drug policy advocates, and providing key questions and takeaways. The streams allow viewers to comment or ask questions in real time, targeting teens, teachers and parents interested in discovering innovative ways to learn about drugs that could save their lives or those of the people they love.
The following is the series initial run schedule, which began Monday, March 30, and will run through May 11, 2020:
The web series marks DPA’s first livestream content. It serves not only to promote effective drug education but also to highlight the limitations of abstinence-based drug education. Generations have been raised on simplistic catch-phrases like “Just Say No” and other drug use prevention frameworks, with no real reduction in levels of drug use or or negative impacts that can occur. In fact, in a climate where accidental overdose was the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50 last year, the evidence is clear that abstinence-based drug education is failing our young people.
"We are excited to be able to dive deeper into the public and mental health aspects of drug use and question the criminal penalties applied to it in the United States,” said Lindsay LaSalle, Managing Director of Public Health Law & Policy at DPA. “With current rates of criminalization only exacerbating the public health crisis we are faced with, it's high time we begin exploring different models."
Simon adds: “There aren’t many existing alternatives to the abstinence-based models for K-12 grades, but we’ve seen through the successes of comprehensive sex education, for example, how well harm reduction models work. Giving teens accurate, skills-based information is more effective than telling them how to act.”
Made of Millions co-founder Aaron Harvey agrees, explaining, “By partnering with DPA, we hope to increase awareness and understanding of harm reduction drug approaches. Addiction is a mental health issue and we want to support the lifesaving work DPA is doing.”
DPA’s Safety First curriculum, which the First of All series is based on, is available free to educators, parents and others involved in health education, and can be downloaded at drugpolicy.org/safetyfirst.
Harvey concludes, “We are committed to collaborating with nonprofits that share a similar ethos, including recognizing the importance of using social media and modern technology to democratize access to information and expertise. We share this goal with the Drug Policy Alliance and are honored to work with them on a much needed project.”
About Made of Millions:
Made of Millions Foundation is a global mental health advocacy nonprofit on a mission to change how the world perceives mental health. It's platforms, events, campaigns and resources reach millions of sufferers around the world each year. For more information, please visit http://www.madeofmillions.com.