Click here to read The Fix’s phenomenal feature story written by our friend Zachary Siegel, about the incomparable Dan Bigg AKA The Patron Saint of Harm Reduction.
When I first met Dan Bigg, cofounder and director of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, I was totally confused. Back in 2010, I didn’t know a thing about Naloxone. I was just as confused as everyone else as to how I felt about drugs in general. I didn’t fully grasp what drug use really stemmed from (being human), why it exists today (because we’re human) and the strategies being used to assist those who are dependent upon them (sadly, not always catered towards humanity).
Today, I believe that public health approaches to assisting drug using population are responsible and necessary. There is no one universal barometer to indicate an individual’s success in getting a handle on their own active use level, and frankly, I’m not sure that having one would help. Expertise helps. Guidance helps. But after all, the human relationship with drugs exists differently for every single one of us. Maybe “any positive change” is enough to enhance a person’s life.
In my opinion, Dan is 100% right. The worst possible threat to a person’s health is not being able to breathe. It’s a quick downward spiral from there. I’m talking minutes. The biggest threat to that is the political, financial, social and medical barriers that exist for educating people about overdose prevention and harm reduction in addition to getting it in the hands of those who need it. What Dan and CRA have done for using populations across America is indescribable and undefinable because it is that huge. Without Dan and CRA, the Lake County Opioid Initiative’s Police Narcan program wouldn’t be possible. With Dan and CRA, the Chicago suburbs would not be seeing significant decreases in fatal overdose numbers. Because of them, people can live to recover. And, without the opportunity to recovery, what is all of this for?
Chelsea, Executive Director, Live4Lali