“Light That Fire”—How Drug User Unions Fight for Better Laws and Self-Defined Recovery
In a small room at a health clinic in Greensboro, North Carolina, five people are gathered around a wide table beneath a whiteboard bearing inspirational slogans.
An addiction recovery meeting, right? Well, kind of.
“We’re a national drug user union,” a woman tells the newcomers around her, explaining that in addition to Greensboro, they have chapters in Seattle and San Francisco. Together, they are the Urban Survivors Union (USU), an organization that advocates for better public health and criminal justice policies at the state and federal levels.
The woman is Louise Vincent. She founded the USU of North Carolina (USU-NC) chapter in 2013 and was recently named national director of the organization. Though short, Vincent has a commanding presence, her voice gravelly, with a strong Southern accent. Her jet-black hair bobs restlessly as she shifts in her seat.
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