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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Needle Exchange Operates Illegally

Intravenous drug users who need access to clean needles are in tight spot, at least in the Fresno area. For the past 15 years a needle exchange, operating out of a bus, has provided drug users an outlet to acquire clean needles. Unfortunately, the county supervisors have decided against legalizing such services despite the fact that there is strong evidence to support the benefits of needle exchanges.

Needle exchanges cut down own infections, spread of disease, and are often the only place where addicts will be exposed to people in recovery or the field of recovery. While addicts swap out their needles it gives people in recovery time to discuss the benefits of getting clean and sober. The Fresno needle exchange will continue to operate illegally while they await a decision from Governor Jerry Brown on two bills which would overrule the Fresno county supervisors decision and allow the Fresno program to continue legally, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The first bill:
  • Allows doctors, pharmacists, and workers at approved programs the ability to provide a restricted number of syringes without a prescription.
The second bill:
  • Allow the state’s Department of Public Health to permit needle exchange programs when they believe there is a public health danger.

Obviously, the ideal would be to get IV drug users off the street and into a program of recovery. However, recovery is only effective if an addict wants it, it cannot be forced upon people. Until certain addicts are ready for recovery, needle exchanges help addicts and the community more than they hurt them. Hopefully, Governor Brown will sign one of the proposed bills so that needle exchanges can operate across California in order to help save lives throughout the state.

What are your thoughts on needle exchanges?

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