Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention Ministries

God is calling us.
to the work of compassion. to the work of harm reduction. to the work of building solidarity with people who use drugs.  to the work of resisting stigma and eradicating systemic violence and racism. to the work of building communities of care. to the work of putting our faith in action to end overdose and the criminalization of people who use drugs. God is calling us to the work of justice and love.

Join us in creating communities of care and justice
in partnership with people who use drugs

About Us
The Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention Ministries of the United Church of Christ brings together pastors, lay leaders, theologians, people who use drugs, service providers, activists, and other collaborators in order to advocate for and increase the engagement of local churches in ministries with people who use drugs, people who have been affected by drug use, and people who may be at risk for or have experienced incidents of overdose.

Centering the voices of people with lived experience, including women and people of color, the project focuses its work on building the capacity of local churches and providing resources that equip local churches to engage in overdose and drug use ministries in their community, with particular attention to the intersections of stigma, trauma, drug use, faith, and spirituality.

Our Principles

Theologically-BasedOur faith compels us to work and advocate for social change and justice through public policy and law.

“Politics is often taken to be a dirty word.  But political processes are simply the way communities of people organize their common life, allocate their resources and tackle shared problems…For people of faith, public policy is never merely politics, merely economics.  It is one way we try to plow the biblical vision of shalom into the soil of our history.”
             – The Good Samaritan, the United Church of Christ and Public Policy

Led by People Who Use Drugs – Centers the dignity, humanity, and wisdom of people who use drugs and amplifies their voices and leadership to achieve healing and social justice.

Harm Reduction Centered – Recognizes individual and community health and wholeness – not necessarily cessation of all drug use – as markers of success.

Intersectional and Justice Rooted – Understands that poverty, class, racism, trauma, sex and gender-based discrimination and other social inequities affect people’s vulnerability to drug related harm (i.e. overdose, HIV/HCV, incarceration, etc.), as well as their access to healing and justice resources.

Evidence-Based – Understands substance use as a dynamic and complex phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors from chaotic use, misuse, to abstinence, promotes reality-based and culturally competent drug education, and focuses on promoting scientifically proven strategies for reducing health risks associated with substance use.

Respects Multiple Pathways to Healing – Acknowledges that healing encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community, values self-determination, and supports people in crafting their own unique paths to positive change.

Challenges Stigma – Seeks to eradicate the stigmatization of people with lived experience of substance use and substance use disorder.

Our Why
We know that people who use drugs are beloved by God. In the United States, almost 200 people die every day from an accidental drug overdose, 130 of those from an opioid overdose. That’s 70,000 parents, siblings, lovers, spouses, friends, children, colleagues, beloved community members dying every year from a largely preventable cause.

People who are living in poverty, people who are experiencing homelessness, people who are incarcerated, and Black, Indigneous, and other people of color are at elevated risk of death from opioid overdose and other harms of racialized drug policy.

Providing overdose prevention, recognition, response education, and access to naloxone to people who use drugs and their friends, families, and church communities is a harm reduction strategy that saves lives and an act of love and justice for our most marginalized neighbors.

Overdose and overdose fatalities are preventable,
click here to learn how to save a life!

Connect with Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention Ministries
Email Erica M. Poellot, Minister for Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention Ministries at poellote@ucc.org