Haley Coles

Haley Coles
Location: Phoenix, Arizona Cohort Start Year: 2016 Project Topics: Addiction and Substance Abuse, Health Care Access
Executive Director
Sonoran Prevention Works 

I am passionate about working with people who use drugs in Arizona. My state is slowly moving forward in finding innovative solutions to address the suffering that Arizonans who use drugs experience due to criminalization, stigma and dehumanization. But in the meantime, we still have preventable tragedies coursing through the state, such as overdose fatalities, hepatitis C infection, child removal and compounding mental illness. As the director of Sonoran Prevention Works, I am embracing the concept of harm reduction to meet state policymakers and change leaders where they are to challenge stigma in a way that makes sense to their cultural and political orientations. I am building a culture where people who use drugs are safe to be who they are and have their best chance to achieve their goals, whatever that looks like.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Arizona Drug Users’ Union
We are working to create a drug users’ union in Arizona. Led by people who use drugs, we will build capacity for social organizing and leadership to address health disparities caused by the exclusion of people who use drugs from policy and program development and implementation. We will issue a report on the state of current policies and programs in Arizona that impact people who use drugs and also create a guide for other agencies on how to meaningfully involve these individuals in planning and implementation.

I am a proud Arizonan, a former drug user, and a bulldog—I will do whatever it takes in order to continue building a community that advocates for the dignity and rights of people who use drugs. I am in it for the long haul and can’t imagine doing anything else.

Click here to watch Haley’s Legacy Project video.