In one way or another, I’ve been involved in harm reduction since I was a kid growing up in New York City. At age 20, I attempted to help my friends prevent overdose and disease by writing factually about dangerous drug combinations and safer use. I eventually titled this collective work, How To Have Fun And Not Die.
Winning the Grand Prize at the 2008 New York Book Festival facilitated introductions to leading players in the harm reduction and drug policy field. Within a few months I was lecturing and holding group discussions based on topics covered in the book, touring over 100 universities, high schools and youth clinics.
But I realized that I would never reach as many people as I wanted to with live events, that many students prefer to watch movies instead of reading, and that visual aids would be useful in conveying the finer details of harm reduction tactics.
On the road I met so many students and young professionals who were even more passionate than I was about teaching kids how to decrease the dangers of drug use. These people would end up forming the majority of the camera crew and drug users in my film.
Our greatest motivation was simply this: We could not find any free access to footage that presented honest, objective, educational information on drugs.
This is what we set out to create with our documentary film series, Play Safe.
Neither demonizing nor glorifying drug use, we filmed mostly casual users doing their drugs of choice, trying to convey safety tactics throughout. We chose to observe the use of drugs that were prevalent on college and High Schools campuses at the time—between 2009 and 2011.
Here is the nitrous oxide episode of the series, for which we filmed a young woman named Lacey:
The film crew has since stuck together. And we will continue to film drug use as it changes with the times, and to better represent the diversity of different populations. It is important that we provide potentially lifesaving education for anyone interested enough to learn.
Eddie Einbinder, LMSW leads a weekly Young Adults Harm Reduction Group and sees individual clients at The Center for Optimal Living in New York City. He continues to deliver Play Safe lectures and screenings at institutions around the world.