Dan Bigg, Harm Reduction Hero, Dies at 59

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Far too many people are ready and willing to ignore the struggles of people with addiction issues. Our culture has spent decades educating people to think of those who struggle in this way as criminals or less worthy. That has led to a major gap between the care and services available to addicts and those provided for people with other serious medical conditions.

Far too many Americans were willing to look the other way while their neighbors died or lost children and loved ones to preventable addiction related deaths. Dan Bigg was not one of those people. As the co-founder of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, he battled addiction on the front lines. He also fought for access to clean needles for addicts to help slow the spread of HIV in at-risk populations in Chicago. He was a brave man willing to stand up for those who did not have a voice.

Bigg struggled against that social stigma, pushing for safe use options for addicts and public availability of Naloxone, a drug that can stop or reverse the effects of an opioid, opiate or heroin overdose. Brandie Wilson, who has written for Ladybud before and works in harm reduction at the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction noted that Dan Bigg actually provided this California-based group with its first Naloxone.

Bigg’s death leaves a huge hole in the hearts of activists across the country. He leaves behind a wife and a teenage daughter. While the cause of death has not been released yet, the community is still reeling with shock.

Harm reduction activist in Chicago and across this country have lost one of the most powerful and respected voices of the movement. Hopefully, other people will be inspired by his efforts too mainstream the struggles and health consequences of addiction. We encourage readers to follow the Chicago Recovery Alliance and other similar organizations. Not only do these organizations offer support for some of the most neglected members of our society, they also helped lead the way into a more compassionate future.


For previous Ladybud articles that deal with addiction issues, click here.


Photo Credit: Public profile image from Dan Bigg’s Facebook account