From Personal Experience The Volunteer State

Northwest Tennessee Needs Help

Tennessee county map.

We all know Cristoforo Colombo, the brave yet kind-hearted soul who pioneered sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. Although he did some not-nice things during his explorations, I’m bringing him up because he went to somewhere that had no infrastructure and was entirely foreign to him.

I feel that Northwest Tennessee is as foreign other harm reductionists across the United States as the “Indies” was to Columbus and his men.

Many other places in the States are rife with well-established harm reduction advocacy, syringe exchange, and related activity or program infrastructure.

Northwest Tennessee isn’t. Our crop of harm reductionists are bare as a baby’s ass.

It seems short-sighted to claim that there are no other practicing harm reductionists here in NWTN. However, I’ve been doing this stuff for two-and-a-half or three years now and have only met one person worth their salt — I don’t want to name him or her here, but they’re great.


Why don’t harm reductionists from other parts of the United States in which drug users are treated much, much better than they are here in NWTN come here and lay down infrastructure for us flatland hillbillies to follow?

Maybe I’m being selfish and making everything about me, me, me.

But I don’t think so.

It sucks to know that I could face arrest and/or prosecution for harm reduction advocacy here in Tennessee. I also don’t like knowing that I have to bankroll (the very few harm reduction-related) expenses tied to my advocacy.

I’d love it if an experienced member of this national community of harm reductionists came here and showed us how to be ‘bout it ’bout it.

From now until then, I’ll be spitting in one hand and shitting in the other.

As of February 2021, Northwest Tennessee still has no syringe services programs and no safe syringe disposal sites (not counting pharmacies, which charge for their services and often promote anti-drug-user stigma).

On the bright side, the state added more than a dozen recovery-oriented contractors across the state under its brand-new Lifeline Peer Project — each one is assigned regions, for which they’re called “Region X Lifeline Peer Project Regional Coordinator.” For more on the Lifeline Peer Project, read here.

By Daniel Garrett

I'm a self-employed writer, long-term drug user, and resident of rural Tennessee. Find me on Twitter at @DanielGarrettHR or email me at

3 replies on “Northwest Tennessee Needs Help”

In short, your answer is to use your vote. As long as Elitist Republicans and Elitist Democrats run your state, you will not see these programs in your area. Many politicians don’t vote in the public interest, but serve those who lobby for their votes (the wealthy). Right now the system is set up to feed the prisons with free labor. The owners of the prisons (which have always been privately owned) lobbied for that and will not give it up easily. If they make it easier to use drugs safely, or to get off of drugs, the prisons lose a lot of their free labor force.
California started methedone clinics in the 1970s, and when it worked they started taking that approach in other states. The only way to change things is to vote candidates into office who will actually represent your needs. That will probably be hard to do since the representatives for Northeast Tennessee have been wealthy Republicans since 1881.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.