Harm reduction is a set of practices that aim to reduce the impacts and harms of substance use. Utilizing these practices helps to make substance use safer and less harmful to the person using and the community around them. Harm reduction practices do not condone or promote drug use, but rather acknowledge that drug use is happening and aims to keep people alive until they are ready to engage in treatment.
One harm reduction practice is carrying Naloxone (Narcan). Carrying Narcan and knowing how to use it can save someone’s life. Narcan is an overdose reversal drug, most commonly given as an intranasal spray.
Narcan can be obtained at your local pharmacy through a standing order in the state of Massachusetts. The cost of Naloxone at the pharmacy is the cost of your co-pay through your insurance. Narcan can also be obtained at some Drop-In Centers, Learn to Cope meetings and the COPE Center in Brockton free of charge.
It is extremely important to have Narcan on hand when you are using substances. In the event of an overdose someone you are with or someone passing by can administer the Narcan and call emergency services. It is equally as important to carry Narcan even if you yourself do not use substances, as you could save the life of a family member, loved one or stranger that is overdosing.
In the event that you overdose, and someone else is present, they can call emergency medical services and administer Naloxone. An individual has a 99% chance of surviving an overdose when someone is on hand to call emergency medical services. If someone is not present, consider calling a friend or a loved one and remain on the line with them while you are using. In the event that you stop responding, the person on the other line can hang up and call emergency medical services to your location. Additionally, if the person who is with you is also using, make sure you take turns, so that you are able to help each other if the other person overdoses. With fentanyl, overdoses occur so quickly that if two people are together and use at the same time, they can overdose at the same time. This can be avoided if people take turns.
Syringe Access Programs are community based programs that help provide individuals with access to sterile needles. These needles are provided to individuals at no cost. The syringe access programs also offer proper disposal of used syringes to help minimize the spread of blood borne diseases. Often times syringe access programs also offer Naloxone, Naloxone training, overdose prevention education, information on harm reduction practices, and referrals to treatment and counseling for STDs and other viruses.
Syringe Access Programs in Plymouth County: The COPE Center, 81 Pleasant Street, Brockton.
It is important to get tested regularly since bloodborne diseases can be spread through the sharing of needles and show no signs for the first 6 months.
The good news is that early detection and treatment can prevent the disease from weakening the immune system and progressing into AIDS. The earlier you start treatment for Hepatitis B & C the greater the chances it won’t lead to liver damage, liver cancer, liver failure or kidney disease.
Places to get tested in Plymouth County:The COPE Center, 81 Pleasant Street in Brockton.
Monday – Friday 9:00am – 4:00pm, https://www.bamsi.org/…/community-outreach-prevention…/
Risk reduction materials aid in reducing the negative effects of substance use and other high-risk behaviors that may be associated with substance use. Some examples of risk reduction materials are: condoms, wound kits, one-shot kits and pipe holders.
These materials not only aim to reduce the spread of infections and viruses as a result of substance use but also aim to keep people safe while using substances. Where to obtain risk reduction materials:
The COPE Center, 81 Pleasant Street in Brockton. Monday – Friday 9:00am – 4:00pm.
If you are not ready to go into treatment, remember these practices, as they will help keep you and the community around you safer as well as lessening your chances of a fatal overdose. Also remember that there is no one pathway to treatment. Treatment and the path to sustained recovery looks different for everyone.