Damian Sobczyk is a Polish videoblogger and a drug user activist whose mission is to help young people to reduce the risks of drug use. His channel had 137,000 subscribers when YouTube decided to ban it without any concrete explanation. Read Drugreporter’s interview, conducted by Adam Stasiak!

DRUGREPORTERHow did you get involved in harm reduction?

DAMIAN SZOBCZYK: I became interested in the topic of psychoactive substances in college. I wrote my master’s thesis on the drug problem in the European Union. Writing it, I discovered how little material on this subject was available and how many things had to be done in the field of drug policy. We have examples of countries that are good at it and we should follow their examples. I decided to deal with this topic more extensively. I was thinking about publishing a book, but I figured that I would reach more people thanks to new media, in particular through a YouTube channel. For a few years I couldn’t make up my mind if I should do it or not. I was afraid of how this would affect my professional life. My fears turned out to be true because 9 months after the foundation of the channel, when it began to gain popularity, my superiors gave me an ultimatum – either I close the channel, or I have to leave work. They were afraid of losing contracts since their employee was dealing with a controversial topic. I chose to work on the channel then because I believed that its mission is right and socially desirable. 

Your channel is called “I know my dope” – an interesting choice of name, maybe even controversial for some people in Poland. Could you tell us what your channel is about and who it is directed at?

The channel’s goal is to reduce negative consequences that may result from the use of psychoactive substances, addiction prevention, and supporting a rational drug policy based on world-proven solutions. Young people are the dominant audience among my viewers. 90% of people watching me are 18-35 years old. I think that content can be interesting for everyone because even if someone is not a user, it is very likely that they know such people in their surroundings.