It has been some time since we checked in on the Lake Cumberland District Health Department’s Harm Reduction Syringe Exchange Program. The month of January saw 96 total visits with 58 repeat visitors and 12 new visitors in Russell County. A total of 3,270 syringes were dispensed and 3,907 collected for a 119 percent collection ratio.
Among returning clients, there was a 121 percent collection ratio with 3,140 syringes dispensed and 3,804 collected. Of the 70 clients using the program, 29 reported what substances they were taking, with 19 using Suboxone, eight using heroin, and two using cocaine.
The goal of the Syringe Exchange Program isn’t to supply needles to drug addicts, according to the health department. Supplying the needles is a strategy being used to prevent the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV, to decrease the cost to society for treating Hepatitis C and HIV, to get used needles out of the ditches, and parks, and off the roadsides and disposed of properly, and to recommend referrals for treatment.