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Stories from the field – The people of SF Drug Users Union

This is a video from the San Francisco Drug Users' Union. You will hear from Miss Ian and colleagues about their organisation and their activities.
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My name is Miss Ian, I am the Executive Director of the San Francisco Drug Users’ Union. It is entirely staffed by people with lived with drug use experience, which is, I think, a lot of other programs can’t say We are a needle exchange, we are a naloxone distribution and training center Naloxone (or Narcan) being the antidote to an overdose and it works every time And we are a drop-in center for people who use drugs, but also just people in the tenderloin, in our community The community, and just the resources and everything just all around like, it just helped me so much, you know, like…
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Honestly, it’s been a really good place for me, it’s been my place to go to if I’m really sad, or depressed you know, if I just really need someone to talk to you and I can’t find anyone this is where all my friends are, you know, everyone here is like a family to me. I feel like… there’s a lot more “one-on-one” too. And just like.. it’s a lot more personal than other exchanges I’ve been to, they’re just sort of like, you know, kind of like the “get-in-get-out” mentality. The Union also provides a space for people to just relax and talk about movies or, whatever…
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sports, whatever like just random nonsense Just humans being humans instead of always, when you’re in a space like that to always be talking about like.. have I been tested for HIV, have I been tested for hep C, when was the last time I did drugs, how did I do that, you know, like specific things for why you might be in those places and makes people feel like their only identity is a drug user. My name is Mike, and I’m here at the San Francisco Drug Users Union and we give out all the supplies because we save lives. The main thing that I am very good at, is Narcan.. Every day it’s used (..) because somebody overdoses.
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So we bring them back and that’s the most important part of my job - There you go… - I see you in a few days yes in a few days… there you go. I appreciate you coming Every staff member knows exactly how to use naloxone, administer naloxone And like I said because most of the staff here has lived experience with opiate use all of them had reversed their own overdoses.
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The Union is a good start for people, they are learning how to do harm reduction just to get in -off the streets- and learn something, in case they need to save someone’s life The Tenderloin is also known as being one of the most open to all different types of lifestyles and so a lot of people gravitate to this area when they don’t have families or places to turn to, because people judge you less. Last time, I did have a job was 10 years ago, and I didn’t think I could have one. Probably because I use and probably because a lot of jobs test. I am a harm reduction worker at the Union.
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Being able to give back, is one of the biggest things that I really enjoy. I just do an outreach program. I fill up a car with syringes and other needles and things that are necessary for people to do the harm reduction. A lot of times people can’t get here, and so I just bring it to them. The Union is a space that allows people to just be themselves, to get the services that they need, to get the referrals that they need. And also just unpack, to sit down, to get to see the people that they know from outside like working and getting paid, moving forward doing different things with their lives, and finding hope
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SFDUU distributed 762 doses of naloxone to people in 2018, which contributed to the 1,658 reported overdose reversals by the community that same year. So far in 2019, SFDUU is responsible for picking up over 25,000 pieces of syringe litter throughout the Tenderloin and SOMA. All this done by participants of the program. This year alone, because of the friendly environment the Union provides, we have had an 82% return rate of all used medical waste including syringes. Run entirely by, for, and with people with lived experience since 2009

It is our honour to feature an existing video from the San Francisco Drug Users’ Union. You will hear from Miss Ian and colleagues about their organisation and their activities.

Thank you Miss Ian and colleagues for allowing us to feature your video!

Below you will find a link to this video. You can also find the SF drug Users’ union on social media.

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Drug Use and Harm Reduction

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