How have recent changes in federal, state, and local governments impacted access to harm reduction services such as needle exchange programs or safe injection sites?

Safe Injection Centers (SIFs) have shown promise in reducing the harms and social costs associated with injecting drug use. Favourable evaluations elsewhere have raised the question of its implementation in the United States. This program supports community overdose prevention programs, syringe service programs, and other harm reduction services. There is no doubt that the use of psychoactive drugs can cause many serious individual and social harm, but the severe stigmatization of people who use drugs contributes to individual and social harm, rather than alleviates it.

Related interventions include outreach at shooting galleries and other public injection sites, syringe exchange programs, drug treatment, overdose prevention programs, and strong cooperation between public health and law enforcement systems. The administration's dedication to preserving and expanding SSP is consistent with its first-year drug priorities, including expanding access to evidence-based treatment, improving evidence-based harm reduction efforts, and promoting racial equity in drug policies. For example, the local prosecutor successfully challenged in court the attempt to implement a syringe exchange program in Atlantic City, New Jersey, who argued that it was prohibited by state drug law. Since January, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has worked with other government agencies to promote President Biden's drug policy priorities.

In its first-year drug policy priorities, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services, as well as reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Maintaining methadone reduced harm, as it showed the possibility of reducing individual and social problems associated with drug use without requiring users to stop using psychoactive drugs. This wording paralleled the requirement of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to demonstrate that new drugs are safe and effective before they are approved for sale in the U.S. UU.

As detailed in the summary of the model law, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that “nearly 30 years of research have demonstrated that comprehensive SSPs are safe, effective and cost-effective, do not increase illegal drug use or crime, and play an important role in reducing the transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV and other infections. New participants in SSP “are five times more likely to start drug treatment and about three times more likely to stop using drugs than those who don't use the programs. Law enforcement laws and practices have chronically complicated implementation and limited the impact of harm reduction programs in the United States. In fact, research shows that SSP clients are five times more likely to voluntarily participate in evidence-based drug treatment and three times more likely to stop using drugs than people who do not have access to such services.

Darla Hemmeke
Darla Hemmeke

Internet practitioner. Incurable internet evangelist. Extreme travelaholic. Award-winning zombie geek. Incurable pizzaaholic.

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