Exploring Ethics Series – Treating People Who Use Drugs: A Bioethics of Substance Use & Harm Reduction

Date: December 12, 2019


12:00pm – 1:00pm


10th Floor, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Conference Room 10

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC

Come and hear one of the WFU Bioethics Graduate Programs’ recent graduates speak – Rev. Sarah S. Howell-Miller, M.Div., MA.

Program Overview

In a clinical setting and beyond, people who use drugs (PWUD) frequently are assumed to be difficult, noncompliant, and untrustworthy—which affects both how they are treated and the outcome of that treatment. Harm Reduction— which is both a set of practical strategies to reduce the harm of drug use, and a social justice movement for the rights and dignity of PWUD—invites us to break down assumptions about substance use and seek a less punitive, more public health-oriented approach. Using the principles of bioethics and drawing on frameworks like the social model of disability, this talk will highlight ways to restore agency and dignity to PWUD. Tools and best practices will also be shared as relates to reducing harm among PWUD, families, communities and caring professionals.

Speaker – Bio

Sarah Howell-Miller comes from a religious leadership background, holding two degrees from Duke University: a bachelor’s degree in religion and a Master of Divinity. Sarah is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and currently splits time among several vocations: leading an experiment in young adult Christian community on the campus of Crossnore School & Children’s

Home; serving on staff at Green Street United Methodist Church; and advocating for a more compassionate approach to substance use and addiction as a volunteer with Twin City Harm Reduction Collective and as a participant in and consultant for the national Faith in Harm Reduction leadership team. In August 2019, Sarah completed a M.A. in Bioethics at Wake Forest University, where she wrote her master’s thesis on substance use, harm reduction, disability studies, and liberation theology. Sarah is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who performs regularly with Martha Bassett and friends. She enjoys hiking, biking, cooking, reading, hanging out with friends, and spoiling her pitbulls along with her husband, Colin.

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