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Harm reduction as anarchist practice : a user’s guide to capitalism and addiction in North America

Smith, Christopher B. R. 2012, Harm reduction as anarchist practice : a user’s guide to capitalism and addiction in North America, Critical public health, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 209-221.

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Title Harm reduction as anarchist practice : a user’s guide to capitalism and addiction in North America
Author(s) Smith, Christopher B. R.
Journal name Critical public health
Volume number 22
Issue number 2
Start page 209
End page 221
Total pages 14
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Philadelphia, Pa.
Publication date 2012-06
ISSN 0958-1596
1469-3682
Keyword(s) harm reduction
public health
anarchism
addiction research
addiction treatment
needle exchange
supervised injection facility
Summary In spite of its origins as an illegal, clandestine, grassroots activity that took place either outside or in defiant opposition to state and legal authority, there is growing evidence to suggest that harm reduction in North America has become sanitized and depoliticized in its institutionalization as public health policy. Harm reduction remains the most contested and controversial aspect of drug policy on both sides of the Canada–US border, yet the institutionalization of harm reduction in each national context demonstrates a series of stark contrasts. Drawing from regional case study examples in Canada and the US, this article historically traces and politically re-maps the uneasy relationship between the autonomous political origins of harm reduction, contemporary public health policy, and the adoption of the biomedical model for addiction research and treatment in North America. Situated within a broader theoretical interrogation of the etiology of addiction, this study culminates in a politically engaged critique of traditional addiction research and drug/service user autonomy. Arguing that the founding philosophy and spirit of the harm reduction movement represents a fundamentally anarchist-inspired form of practice, this article concludes by considering tactics for reclaiming and re-politicizing the future of harm reduction in North America.
Language eng
Field of Research 111712 Health Promotion
160703 Social Program Evaluation
160806 Social Theory
Socio Economic Objective 920401 Behaviour and Health
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30049425

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Created: Mon, 19 Nov 2012, 20:46:13 EST by Christopher Smith

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