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Dr. Heather Henderson (she/her/hers)

Dr. Heather Henderson (she/her/hers)

I never imagined that a major portion of my professional career would revolve around harm reduction. From day labor, to waiting tables, to creative writing, to psychology, to environmental science, to medical anthropology, and finally a focus on addiction medicine (with stints of homelessness and general chaos interspersed between each phase), I have found my way to where I believe I belonged all along.

I have a long history of friends and family being mired in poverty, structural inequalities, the criminal justice system, and struggling with mental health and substance use issues. I believe in the early days of my academic career, this topic was too close to me, and I most likely fought against working on these issues as a means to protect myself. But after experiencing a number of years of stability (and trauma therapy), I realized that I had a unique opportunity to leverage my lived experience to craft meaningful solutions to better people's lives.

While much of my work is focused on addiction treatment, experiencing addiction is not a linear process. We know relapse happens. We know struggle happens. And that's ok. Which is why harm reduction is so near and dear to me. It lets people define what recovery means to them; it restores agency and power to people; it provides a community where people can safely thrive while they find their own way. I continue to be both humbled and grateful to help provide this safe space to my community.

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