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Beccy Henderson’s Topic
Now an independent researcher and consultant, Beccy’s personal experience with illicit drug use led her to recognise the crucial need for harm reduction in her teenage years. Despite existing needle and syringe programs, the alarming surge in overdose deaths during the 1990s drove home the fact that more action was required.
In 1999, when she sought to quit heroin, she encountered a doctor’s office sign that read, “we do not prescribe methadone or any other drugs of addiction.” This highlighted a glaring absence of support or alternative options like Diamorphine Assisted Treatment or Overdose Prevention Centres, leaving no safe space for drug use or avenues for gradual reduction.
After her rehabilitation, Beccy began teaching drug awareness courses at a community center. Her approach encouraged students to delve into the underlying reasons for drug use, challenging media rhetoric and humanising people who use drugs. In 2008, she engaged in cannabis law reform advocacy, warning of a two-tier prescription system and the risks to those with mental health issues.
In 2010, Beccy established a Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at her university, making harm reduction a focus of her Sociology degree. By 2014, she joined organizations like the Law Enforcement Action Partnership to advance drug law reform, motivated by the harm reduction perspective, especially for opiate users. Her ongoing work includes challenging government views, researching Overdose Prevention Centres and Diamorphine Assisted Treatment, and engaging in public conversations to challenge the prevailing rhetoric surrounding drug users and advocate for safer alternatives.