Although it is considered controversial, needle exchange programs have proven to lower the incidences of transmitting infections and diseases in areas that are experiencing higher than average intravenous drug use. It is far from the solution of addiction but has gone a long way in helping preserve the life of an addict until the decision to quit drugs is made. These programs are often the last line of defense an addict has in the quest to stay disease-free. All needle exchange programs require voluntary participation and offer complete privacy to the individual needing services.
The Explosion in Heroin Use
The excessive use and common prescription of Oxycontin that rose dramatically in the year 2000 have done much to fuel the recent rise in heroin use. Laws were put in place that made it increasingly difficult to get numerous prescriptions and refills. This caused opiate-addicted individuals to resort to obtaining their opiate fix through illegal drugs like heroin.
Dangers of Intravenous Drugs
Heroin is commonly injected to achieve a high. The act of injecting a drug into the system is fraught with many perils. A dirty needle can cause deadly blood infections. Using the needle of someone with a disease communicable through blood contact leaves someone at high risk for infection. The immediate rush of the drug into the body through the veins could quickly lead to overdose if the product is too potent.
Risks Associated with Dirty Needles
Diseases like HIV, Aids, and hepatitis C are easily and commonly passed through shared use of dirty hypodermic needles. Infections can also shut down kidneys and other organs, causing jaundice and dehydration that destroys liver tissue permanently. The health risks of dirty needles can often be worse than the drug itself.
What is a needle exchange program?
A needle exchange program is a way of providing clean syringes, needles, and tools for administering drugs at no charge to low and no-income addicts. There is no charge for the new, clean items and it is done without judgment and scorn. The goal is to try and eliminate the risk of a disease until the actual addiction can be addressed. It has origins in the UK but has quickly become a much-used service here in the United States.
Where are needle exchange programs?
Needle exchange programs are generally operated in highly populated areas. You can find the nearest location by using the needle exchange directory online. It will show you the address of the closest needle exchange program to your current location. There may not be one in your exact location, but there may be options that are within traveling distance.
How does a needle exchange program work?
A needle exchange program is effective due to the simple nature of the process. An intravenous drug user brings in their used syringes and needles for disposal. They are given access to information about available drug treatment programs and can ask nurses and other health professionals any questions they need to help protect their health. They will then be issued new syringes and needles. They can bring these back for disposal once they are used, beginning a brand new cycle.
Do needle exchange programs encourage drug use?
A large part of the controversy in a needle exchange program is the misconception that it encourages drug use. The intent of the program is to reduce the incidences of transmission of deadly diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. It discourages the sharing of needles among addicts. It provides safety education in what the symptoms of these diseases are and how to better protect their health. It is a method of trying to preserve their lives from disease until they are ready to break the addiction.
A Bridge to Drug Treatment
Being able to show real concern for the safety of a drug addict can eventually lead them to explore the possibilities of seeking treatment. This program can act as a bridge to treatment by not placing the normal stigma shown by society in general. It is an abiding hope in instilling a concern for the personal care and desire to improve life. Many of these addicts would go without any sort of medical advice and continue taking wild risks in sharing needles without an exchange program.
Contact addiction recovery experts like Elevations Health Texas and find out more about needle exchange programs today!