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Episode 2: Syringe Exchange Programs

By Vanessa Lech

In no way, shape or form do I promote the use of illicit substance(s). I DO promote harm reduction for a variety of reasons including but not limited to: preventing the spread of communicable diseases. This blog post will focus on syringe exchange. The basic public health reason for syringe exchange is to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. I have worked with countless individuals that are addicted and dependent upon various substances. Drug paraphernalia is often employed to use various substances. Often times drug users will use their illicit substances in community with other addicts. Substances and drug paraphernalia are then shared. For many, drug use is a communal, community and recreational activity that evolves into more of a daily grind as the addiction and dependence intensifies upon the substance(s). As I continued to observe this trend; I could not help but think about the inherent public health hazard that is present. My work experience has shown me that most people will NOT quit all of their substance(s) immediately. Instead, quitting takes time. Entering recovery tends to be a gradual process and relapse is likely.Therefore, syringe exchange programs matter and can work to serve the public interest through preventing the spread of communicable diseases.Of course, syringe exchange programs are not a silver bullet. It is more a piece of the puzzle inside of a complex problem in desperate need of practical solutions. It is a devastating, harsh and cold reality to see individuals infected with Hepatitis C and HIV first hand as I have countless times.One of my 2 Master’s Degrees has a concentration in Public Health. My prior work (2008 - 2012) as a Soldier in the U.S. Army focused on public health. As a result, it is my continued to desire and interest to serve the public health through educating people about how to prevent the spread of communicable diseases when and where possible. I do NOT judge and instead aim to serve others with empathy and compassion as this will best serve the greater good and the public interest. Being treated with respect and dignity matters.Here Are Some Resources:More Information about Syringe Exchange: http://www.nchrc.org/syringe-exchangeSyringe Exchange Programs in North Carolina: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/north-carolina-safer-syringe-initiative/syringe-exchange-programs-northNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/American Association of Poison Control Centers1-800-222-1222https://aapcc.org/About the Author:My name is Vanessa Lech. I am a behavioral clinician at Carolina Addiction & Anger Management PLLC. I regularly write content and self-publish books on various topics to include “Burn Out Self Care for Behavioral Health Clinicians”. https://www.carolinaaddictionanger.com/

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