21 July marks the date of International Drug Users Remembrance Day, a day observed by the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) in conjunction with UNAIDS, to reflect upon the countless lives lost to drug related harm.
From all walks of society, to be able to lead a life where friends, family or loved ones have not been impacted by drugs in some way, appears rare.
On International Drug Users Remembrance Day, we look beyond the statistics of mortality to drug related harm. We look at the human element and remind ourselves that drug users globally continue to face stigma and dehumanising behaviour due to the criminalisation of illicit drugs. We remember connections lost, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbours, loved ones, sports stars, and celebrity fame. Indeed, no one is immune to drug related harm.
We also remember those we have lost who have been strong advocates and allies, our network of peers, and everyone who has worked to advance the health and human rights of people who use drugs. We pause to reflect on the fact that many of the public health responses to illicit drug use, such as needle syringe programs and drug consumption rooms, have been born out of acts of civil disobedience carried out by people who use drugs along with those who stood as strong advocates for their health and human rights.
AIVL commemorates this day and will continue to advocate on issues of national relevance for people with living or lived experience of drug use and continue in the fight to end the war on people who use drugs.
AIVL is the national organisation representing people who use/have used illicit drugs and is the peak body for the state and territory peer-based drug user organisations.
Jake Docker, CEO, AIVL – email firstname.lastname@example.org