Needle Exchange Program Explained by Harm Reduction Coalition

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Nearly two months ago, the Harm Reduction Coalition came to Castle Country to inform the community and officials in the area that it would be implementing a needle exchange program in the area. Mindy Vincent, LCSW and member of the coalition, is the voice of the fourth installation of the needle exchange program exploration series.

One of the ways that Vincent finds the program to be valuable and important is in reducing the rate of blood-born diseases. Vincent explains that there is more to it than just contracting Hepatitis C and HIV. She also stresses that people need to understand that a user can die from blood infections such as endocarditis from re-using their own needles.

It is believed that Carbon County has health issues to address that are due to drug use, and the coalition would like to help be a part of the solution. As someone in long-term recovery and learning from personal and professional experiences, Vincent understands that it is hard for a community to turn from focusing on only getting users sober to also helping them stay alive until they want the help they need.

“It is a hard shift to make, but it’s a shift that’s important,” Vincent said.

Vincent stresses that as a community, people should be fighting for every life that they can. She explains that the coalition is deeply involved in assisting addicts when they are ready and willing to get into treatment. They assist in finding avenues for treatment such as donated beds from treatments centers and outpatient or sober living homes.

The coalition also provides free testing for those that are involved in the needle exchange program by partnering with a local organization. According to Vincent, the coalition will be visiting Castle Country once monthly for the needle exchange and will be willing to provide free testing. Vincent is a licensed worker that specialized in treating addiction.

As the topic of having an entire kit available for users rather than just a needle is controversial to many, Vincent explained that giving out just a syringe is counter-productive in preventing disease. While acknowledging the fact that seeing the entire kit is intimidating at first, the truth is it is what is necessary to inject safely.

There is no denying that Castle Country has lost many lives to this epidemic. Vincent stated that she is fighting for the people that society sometimes pushes aside because it doesn’t want to acknowledge the issue. Vincent strongly believes that all human beings, including addicts, are valuable and worthy. Creating a connection is the best way to ensure that when a user is ready to make a change they know where to go.

“Look at what I’ve done with my life; somebody believed in me and helped me and today I make good choices,” Vincent explained.

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