Advancing Harm Reduction Services in the United States: The Untapped Role of the Americans with Disabilities Act
29 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2022 Last revised: 12 Aug 2022
Date Written: 2022
Now in its third decade, the overdose crisis continues to worsen. Harm reduction strategies, such as syringe service programs (SSPs), are proven, cost-effective responses to this ongoing public health emergency. Despite extensive research demonstrating that the health and social benefits of harm reduction services far outweigh alleged negative externalities, the number and scope of these programs continue to be severely limited. Restrictive zoning and other discriminatory legal measures figure among key barriers to harm reduction service access. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act (RA) have recently gained prominence in challenging discrimination against people who seek substance use treatment. But the instrumental potential of these landmark statutes to advance access to harm reduction services has been largely unrealized. By drawing lessons from the emerging success in using Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the RA in the realm of substance use treatment, we call for urgent deployment of these statutes to expand access to harm reduction services in the United States. In the context of a spiraling crisis, these legal tools offer enormous promise in safeguarding the rights—and lives—of vulnerable people.
Funding Information: MISSING
Declaration of Interests: MISSING
Keywords: Americans with Disabilities Act, syringe service programs, COVID-19, harm reduction services
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation