The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Johanna Kichton,

People's Action Institute and Data for Progress Unveil New Poll Showing Bipartisan Support for Harm Reduction Policies

Poll Comes as White House Releases Drug Control Plan That Centers Some Harm Reduction Tools While Bloating CBP Budget for Enforcement.


People's Action Institute and Data for Progress today unveiled new research showing robust, bipartisan support for a variety of harm reduction measures like expanding use of medication-assisted treatment, increasing access to opioid overdose-reversal medication, opening overdose prevention centers, and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs. The polling comes a day after the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a conflicting drug control plan that centers some harm reduction tactics but increases criminalization through its enforcement.

"This new polling shows that a world is possible in which every preventable overdose death is seen as a tragedy," People's Action Institute Drug Policy, Harm Reduction, and Criminal Justice Campaign Director Ellen Glover said. "That starts by listening to the overwhelming majority of people demanding evidence-based solutions, like passing the MAT Act. Saving lives is a bipartisan issue, and it's time for Congress to start acting like it."

"Across the country, in red states and blue states alike, communities and families have been devastated by the overdose crisis," Data for Progress Polling Analyst Anika Dandekar said. "It is no surprise then that we find vast majorities of voters, across all backgrounds and parties, support life-saving policy solutions that treat substance use disorder first and foremost as a public health issue."

Specifically, the new polling showed clear bipartisan support for harm reduction measures:

  • 79% of voters support expanding use of medication-assisted treatments;

  • 80% of voters support for increasing access to naloxone, the drug that reverses opioid overdoses;

  • 64% support opening overdose prevention centers; and

  • 69% of voters support decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs.

"The point of harm reduction is to leave no person behind. This polling is proof that voters across the political spectrum buy into that principle" VOCAL-NY Users Union Leader Asia Betancourt said. "It's time we move forward and save lives."

"I am alive today and helping my community in Ohio thanks to harm reduction tools like naloxone," River Valley Organizing Civic Engagement Organizer Thomas Powell said. "This new data shows what those of us on the ground in our communities have known all along-that we want to see our neighbors stay alive. We need harm reduction to do that."

Preventable overdose deaths are breaking records. Over 106,000 people died in the past year, up nearly 16 percent from the previous year. The polling data is encouraging for advocates and lawmakers as the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act is held up, despite having bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The MAT Act would remove redundant and outdated barriers for healthcare practitioners to prescribe life-saving medicines, like buprenorphine which is a form of medication-assisted treatment.

The new polling data may be found here.

Data for Progress is a multidisciplinary group of experts using state-of-the-art techniques in data science to support progressive activists and causes.