By: Shannon Persad
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What are Syringe Services Programs (SSPs)?
In the wake of the opioid crisis and an increase in overdose deaths, many syringe services programs (SSPs) have emerged.
What are syringe services programs? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“Syringe services programs (SSPs) are community-based prevention programs that can provide a range of services, including linkage to substance use disorder treatment; access to and disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment; and vaccination, testing, and linkage to care and treatment for infectious diseases. SSPs protect the public and first responders by facilitating the safe disposal of used needles and syringes. Providing testing, counseling, and sterile injection supplies also helps prevent outbreaks of other diseases.”
Why Syringe Services Programs?
According to the three waves analysis, after prescription drug abuse, many people may turn to heroin or synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Heroin and synthetic opioids are mostly used with a syringe, and these drugs are more likely to cause an overdose than prescription opioids.
How did this happen? According to the National Institue on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
“In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.3,4 Opioid overdose rates began to increase. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.”
The CDC says that SSPs also reduce HIV and the transmission of other diseases, as dirty syringes are one of the causes. An SSP ensures cleaner needles and safe disposal.
How to Get Help for Drug Addiction
SSPs are controversial, as many say they encourage use. However, the CDC states, “Nearly thirty years of research shows that comprehensive SSPs 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.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction or any other substance abuse, contact ATSI at 1-(855)-498-2121 for a confidential consultation.