Extreme States Across Context: Building A Bridge Between Psychiatric survivors and People Who Use Drugs (PWUD)

Katharine Celentano, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance, New York

Instead of a formal presentation, this workshop will mostly be a facilitated conversation about the commonalities, or lack thereof, between the philosophies of the psychiatric survivor and harm reduction movements. Acknowledging that some people may still hold skepticism about the movements’ consonance, we will encourage frank discussion and hard questions as we confront where the movements align (or contradict), how each can better understand the other, and what collaboration can or should look like.


We envision a world in which:

  • The harm reduction and psychiatric survivor spaces are literate in the perspectives and issues tackled by one another.
  • The harm reduction and psychiatric survivor movements have analyses that are nuanced by one another.
  • The harm reduction and psychiatric survivor movements work in tandem.

We will create an as-safe-as-possible space for people from different movements to:

  • Ask hard, perhaps awkward, questions of one another.
  • Learn about movements outside their primary movement affiliation.
  • Unpack to what extent movements are aligned.

We aim to get a general sense of:

  • The extent to which there is inter-movement agreement about the consonance of these two movements.
  • On which issues there is the most inter-movement misunderstanding and/or disagreement, if there is disagreement.

Attendees will walk away:

  • Feeling heard and more secure in seeking information about the other movement.
  • A better understanding of other movements.
  • Inter-movement contacts that will empower advocates to continue the conversation and bring it to their communities.