Safer syringe programs are one approach to address substance use disorders.
Safer syringe programs are community-based prevention programs that protect people and reduce harms associated with substance use. Safer syringe programs protect people by providing safe disposal of used syringes, which protects the public safety workforce and community members from needle-stick injury. Individuals who access a safer syringe program are taking steps to reduce harms associated with substance use by using sterile syringes, getting health exams, and connecting to substance use disorder treatment providers.
Safer Syringe Program information
Safer syringe programs offer comprehensive services that protect people and reduce the harms associated with substance use. The portfolio of services offered at Idaho Safer Syringe Programs include:
- Safe syringe disposal
- Access to sterile syringes and other harm reduction supplies
- Opioid overdose reversal medicines (called naloxone or Narcan®)
- Overdose prevention education
- HIV, hepatitis C, and STD tests
- Wound care
- Social services such as housing assistance or food banks
- Connection to recovery services including recovery coaches
- Referrals to substance use disorder treatment
- Referrals to mental health or other healthcare services
Nearly thirty years of research shows that syringe service programs are safe, effective, and cost-saving, do not increase illegal drug use or crime, and play an important role in reducing the transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV and other infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offer trustworthy information based on extensive research and evidence about syringe services programs.
Naloxone (sometimes called Narcan®) is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Examples of opioids include: hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone, or heroin. Naloxone reverse an opioid overdose by helping the person breath again. If you know someone who might be at risk for an opioid overdose, keep naloxone on hand in case of an emergency.
As of 2019, Idahoans may access naloxone at a pharmacy without a prescription. Please call ahead to your local pharmacy to ensure availability of naloxone and to ask about your co-pay. If you have Medicaid, naloxone is free from the pharmacy. Community-based organizations such as safer syringe programs, substance use disorder treatment, recovery, and crisis centers near you may also offer naloxone free to individuals in need, regardless of your insurance status. Find naloxone.
Ready for recovery?
Substance use disorder is treatable and many people recover with the right care and support. Treatment options may include medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder, treatment for mental health conditions, counseling, and other support services.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare offers different paths to access treatment and recovery support services through a number of Idaho providers. To learn more and get help visit Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment.