Harm Reduction: A Conversation and Some Resources

Harm Reduction | dBs Dialogues (now Catalyst Dialogues) mental health panel talk at Catalyst Berlin

Journalist Anna Codrea-Rado recaps our Dialogues Harm Reduction mental health panel talk. Scroll down for the highlights and full video.

When it comes to partying in Berlin plenty of people know to where to find cutting edge music, but few know where to turn for information about safe drug use. For many young people newly arrived in Berlin, the principle of harm reduction, or evidence-based drug education, is a completely new concept. At a discussion hosted by dBs Berlin in January, even the students on the panel hadn’t heard the term “harm reduction” before. That’s because open and frank conversations around drug safety, even in a city as progressive as Berlin, are rare. Here is a wrap up of our discussion as well as a long list of resources for those based in Berlin seeking support for harm reduction or addiction.

"When it comes to harm reduction and drug safety, knowledge really is power"

The evening, part of dBs Berlin [now Catalyst]’s ongoing Dialogues series, was an open dialogue about the Berlin clubbing scene, when partying becomes a problem, and what the wider music community can do to help foster better conversations around drug use.

The panelists, made up of students and myself, Anna Codrea-Rado, shared their experiences of coming to Berlin and how the city’s nightlife scene differed from their hometowns. For example, many students who come to Berlin are used to big drinking cultures back home and hadn’t even heard of some of the drugs that are part of the Berlin scene before.

While Berlin’s nightlife is often applauded for its inclusivity and openness, the panelists agreed that more could be done to promote harm reduction, pointing to a need for drug-checking services and more information on safe drug use. They all agreed that it is possible to party responsibly and it’s not the drugs that are the problem, but how people use them. When it comes to harm reduction and drug safety, knowledge really is power.

The biggest takeaway from the evening was a theme the conversation kept returning to: education and a need for families and communities to take greater responsibility for one another. The panel pointed to the positive steps already taken within the music industry, which they felt has moved past the glamorisation of drug use associated with the 1980s and 1990s. They welcomed artists who have in the last few years publicly spoke out about mental health issues and addiction, and called for more dialogue like the one held at dBs Berlin [now Catalyst] as a big step forward for harm reduction in Berlin’s nightlife.

Take a look at our highlights video below, and find the entire discussion recap video at the bottom of this blog.


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Harm reduction and addiction support in Berlin

General harm reduction tips


Drug specific information

  • Vice’s Safe Sesh: a video series made by Vice in partnership with the UK harm reduction charity The Loop covering harm reduction tips for a range of club drugs including MDMA, cocaine, ketamine and cannabis
  • Psychedsubstance: a drug education YouTube channel covering drug-specific information, including psychedelics and novel substances


Drug checking

  • Reagent Tests UK: At-home drug testing kits available for purchase (ships to Germany)
  • KnowDrugs: a phone app available on iOs and Android that collects global drug-testing results to alert users to the effects of specific substances. Also contains local counselling information for addiction and general substance advice


How to help others

  • Advice for psychedelics: Six tips for helping a friend through a bad psychedelic experience by the Zendo Project, a harm reduction group focused on psychedelics
  • Signs of an overdose: How to tell if someone has overdosed and what to do to help them. NB: This page is written for a UK audience, in Berlin dial 112 for an ambulance
  • Recognising addiction: Common signs someone may have a drug addiction


Addiction recovery information


Harm reduction organisations

  • Chill Out: Potsdam-based harm reduction group (German-language)
  • The Loop: UK-based harm reduction organisation, provides online resources and UK-based drug checking services
  • DanceSafe: US-based nightlife safety organisation, provides online resources and US-based services
  • INPUD: The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) is a global peer-based organisation that defends the rights of people who use drugs.
  • Release: UK-based organisation specialising in drugs and the law
  • Zendo Project: US-based harm reduction group specialising in psychedelics, provides online resources and US-based onsite services as North American festivals

Full discussion

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