Pandemic Hits Harm Reduction Workers Hard—Particularly “Peers”

published on January 14, 2021 by Doug Johnson in Filter

A few weeks back, Soma Snakeoil, an artist and the founder of Los Angeles-based organization the Sidewalk Project, came across a man overdosing on a street corner. She asked his girlfriend what he had taken and administered naloxone, but he was still non-responsive.

Working quickly, she created a cone with her hands, and performed rescue breathing on the man. He came to, and an ambulance, called by her friend, showed up and took over.

“I was not thinking about the pandemic. I ripped off my mask and it was on,” Snakeoil said.

Since the start of the pandemic, harm reduction organizations like the Sidewalk Project have been forced to change the way they provide care and support—others have closed entirely. While many remaining operations are still handing out naloxone and syringes and reversing overdoses, the work has grown harder and, in light of COVID-19, more perilous. In the United States and Canada the pandemic has also led to a sharp increase in the number of overdose deaths…

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