Help Not Harm


what is help not harm

Help Not Harm is an independent grassroots campaign led by young people and students who want to see the adoption of a harm reduction approach to drug use. 

Help Not Harm makes its calls to public institutions, policymakers and the night-time industries. We want our services to help and support people who use drugs, not harm them with stigmatisation and persecution.

The campaign was established by Stirling SSY members in February 2021, but now includes organisers from left-wing groups across the entire country, including Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.


We’ve seen that the Just Say No approach doesn’t work – drugs will still find a way into young people’s lives.

Public education about drugs takes an abstinence-only approach. This leaves young people without the knowledge or experience to use drugs in a way that’s likely to present the least harm.

Institutions, workplaces and the law seek to punish individuals who have a relationship with drugs. When this relationship is a problem, punishment serves only to make the lives of individuals more difficult. It is not a miracle cure for complex health issues.

The vast majority of people escape punishment, but this doesn’t mean no harm is done. In having drug penalties, institutions isolate those who develop a problem relationship with drugs, making them afraid (or unable) to reach out and access proper support.

Where the law is concerned, the War On Drugs has ensured that all illicit narcotics circulating in Scotland are unregulated in their production. A huge factor in drug deaths, from dodgy eccies to heroin, relate directly to the inconsistent purity of each street drug. The majority of drug deaths come from accidental poisoning.

In the worst instances, these combined factors lead young people to develop serious health problems and even to overdose on drugs.

Scotland could do better. We campaign for a Help Not Harm approach to be applied at institutions, workplaces and in the law.

we want to see

Easy access to advice & guidance about drug-use for those who seek it, including helplines and signposting to relevant organisations

Better safety nets woven between schools, workplaces and local services to more effectively provide support to individuals who need help with problematic drug-taking behaviours

Harm reduction education in schools, workplaces and local communities, offering an inclusive space for discussion led by experts whose knowledge extends beyond abstinence-only solutions

Regular counselling opportunities offered to those who ask for them within an appropriate span of time (in most cases no more than a week)

Drug-checking facilities available to the members of every community, in locations which are accessible to the people who need them

Free overdose prevention training offered by the NHS, promoted by all public institutions and funded by the Scottish Government

Opening of Safer Drug Consumption Facilities (SDCFs) in Scottish towns and cities, guaranteeing access to safe consumption sites for all who require them

we want to end

Punishment for drug possession from public institutions, workplaces, and in the eyes of the law

Stigmatisation of drug-users as less deserving of care and support when accessing healthcare.

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