Youth RISE (Resources, Information, Support and Education) mobilizes youth to be engaged in full spectrum harm reduction and drug policy reform to promote health and human rights.
Youth are valued, active partners in the political process on the local, regional, and international levels.
Full Spectrum Harm Reduction incorporates all of the people who use drugs, and all of the methods with which they use them, as well as all of the political, social, and environmental contexts surrounding this. It aims to include and account for the diversity of factors at play when we consider all forms of drug use and all of the people who use drugs globally.
This concept was born when we began to reconsider traditional harm reduction to better incorporate younger generations. Harm Reduction traditionally comes from the Global North and focuses mostly on injecting drug use and opiate use, as well as sexual and reproductive health. This focus leads to the exclusion of a sizable proportion of the people who use drugs globally, including non-injecting drug use, and people who use drugs from the Global South, who face a far greater diversity of issues, which can often be as severe as being the victim of an extra-judicial killing in many countries.
The main guiding principles of Full Spectrum Harm Reduction remain the same as traditional Harm Reduction models. The aim is to keep people who use drugs safe and to minimize the harm associated with drug use. By incorporating a wider number of forms of drug use and a wider number of factors associated with drug use we hope to further reduce stigma, discrimination, and inhumane situations people who use drugs find themselves in.
YouthRISE believes that it is vital for us to talk openly and honestly, without stigmatization, about Full Spectrum Harm Reduction. Only when we do this can we fully begin to achieve the goal of reducing harm.
YouthRISE finds it important to engage with young people who use drugs when discussing harm reduction or drug policy reform. This is particularly because young people, and particularly young people from marginalized backgrounds, are more likely to engage in risky drug taking and sexual activity that may lead to a number of harms. Young people are often discriminated against by law enforcement and young people who use drugs are often discriminated against in wider society. We aim to mobilize youth from across the world by involving global youth leaders in our endeavours and creating initiative groups with the aim of reaching a wide number of young people who would previously have not been engaged in drug policy advocacy or harm reduction.
YouthRISE builds capacity in two distinct ways, we focus specifically on young people, across the globe, from a variety of different backgrounds to enable people who may not previously have had access to crucial resources and harm reduction services, as well as providing advocacy opportunities for young people to become further involved in political activism and drug policy reform. On top of this we also engage in capacity building with law enforcement, media and other stakeholders in order to educate them on the issues facing young people and people who use drugs, and develop resources for them to use moving forward. This work helps us to expand our YouthRISE network to reach a large number of people and helps to create a better and safer environment for us all to live in through the spreading of Full Spectrum Harm Reduction practices and reducing stigma surrounding people who use drugs and sexual activity.
YouthRISE engages in regular advocacy work at a number of conferences as well as attending sessions of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. This advocacy work is done to voice the issues young people who use drugs face across the world, such as barriers to healthcare, human rights violations, absence of objective information and education on drugs and other risks and harms caused by the war on drugs. We do this by taking people who have been working with us through youth engagement to represent their region, and the young people who use drug within their region, in the international arena. Through our involvement in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs we are a member of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Civil Society Task Force, a network of Civil Society groups which aims to increase the involvement of NGOs and Civil Society Groups in International advocacy, particularly relating to drug policy and UNODC’s thematic areas of work.
YouthRISE, both on our own and in conjunction with other groups, work to produce tools and resources relating to drug policy and harm reduction for use by a wide range of people from young people who use drugs, youth advocates and leaders, as well as other stakeholders, such as media, law enforcement, educators etc. We apply our first-hand experience and knowledge of the issues facing young people who use drugs and combine it with our expertise in drug policy and harm reduction to produce harm reduction materials, from guidelines, articles and other papers to flyers, posters and stickers. Our aim is for these resources to positively impact, either directly or indirectly, the health and well-being of young people who use drugs, through aiding them in advocacy work, local community mobilisation, education of stakeholders, and these resources directed towards them and the people they interact with.