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Antiracist Addiction Treatment Required Decriminalization and Harm Reduction

November 17 @ 1:00 pm 4:30 pm EST

Registration deadline 11/10/23

Location: Online


This presentation will detail proposed legislation for drug decriminalization that recognizes the humanity and agency of all people, expands access to non-compulsory services, reduces penalties, and redirects resources from a punitive criminal justice approach to a community informed, culturally competent, and restorative public health approach. Drug decriminalization will reduce the number of people involved in the criminal justice system, create a climate where people can seek treatment rather than fear stigma or arrest, improve treatment outcomes where treatment is called for, and remove barriers to implementation of evidenced-based practices such as harm reduction. The presenter will also share the interactive results of focus groups on societal perceptions of decriminalization.


Sandy Gibson, PhD, LCSW, LCADC, is a profession at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). She worked as an Addiction Counselor for six years while completing her Doctoral degree then became a Study Director at a research institute at Temple University conducting research for seven years. While there, she developed and evaluated addiction prevention and treatment programming. In 2010, Gibson became faculty at TCNJ in the Department of Counselor Education where she teaches Addiction Counseling. Her research focuses on natural recovery and addiction treatment, and she has received grants to create new curriculum for DUI education, cannabis psychoeducation for youth convicted of drug possession, and harm reduction strategies for peer recovery specialists. Dr. Gibson is now actively working to promote harm reduction and a shift from a criminal justice to a more public health-based approach to drug use. Her public health-based approach includes the full decriminalization of all drugs.


  • 1:00-2:30 Decriminalization of Drugs
  • 2:30-2:40 Break
  • 2:40-4:00 Harm Reduction for Providers
  • 4:00-4:30 Q&A

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to summarize the racist history and current day implications of the War on Drugs, as well as racial discrepancies in drug use, law enforcement, and its effects on impacted communities.
  • Participants will be able to reconnect with the codes of ethics and its incompatibility with compulsory treatment and mandatory abstinence.
  • Participants will be able to describe the implications of the decriminalization of drugs on our profession.