An Open Letter to Those Write Us To Tell Us They Do Not Approve of Our Harm Reduction Program
We got your message about our Syringe Service Program (SSP), and your feelings towards it. Did you know we have saved thousands of lives as a result of the Narcan we give out? Because we value human life. We assume you also value human life, and that you wouldn’t want to be the person who decides who gets to live and who is left to die. Who are any of us to pass such deadly judgment in so grave a matter?
Did you know there has never, ever been a case of HIV transmission from a syringe found in the community? We know syringes can be scary, but the danger of infection from a syringe found in the community is infinitesimally small. So small it has never been reported.
Speaking of HIV, did you know that each case of HIV we prevent saves $400,000? Or that we are in the midst of a Hepatitis C epidemic? Or that 80% of the people currently using opioids are not connected to treatment services, and we can increase access to treatment for them five-fold?
We have 30 years of peer reviewed evidence that suggests we can use SSP’s to reach disconnected folks to decrease HIV and Hepatitis C infection, decrease fatal overdose and get people connected in meaningful ways that improve their lives and the overall quality of life in their communities. This includes you. It includes all of us. Drug user health IS public health.
Ours is the way of compassion and love and respect and dignity, and it’s based upon a preponderance of research. If folks such as yourself provide us with peer reviewed research that suggests the 30 years of data we rely upon is incorrect (including the wonderful data just released about Scott County), we would most definitely stop providing these services. Because we want to promote positive changes that don’t further exacerbate our complex and difficult social problems. If you have peer reviewed evidence we are doing harm, please share it with us.
Until then, we’re here to love those who are least loved; to meet them, where they are, without judgment; to try to keep them alive and as safe as possible in the actual conditions they live in, not the conditions we or others wish that they lived in.
If you are upset about finding syringes, we suggest you turn that anger towards legislators and law enforcement, because it is fear of arrest and felony conviction that drives improper disposal. Presently, there are ZERO places in Indiana where a person can legally dispose of a used syringe with illicit drug residue without fear of arrest. This HAS to change. You can help. Call your legislator and demand they pass legislation that allows for safe disposal. Call local leaders and ask they put disposal units in public places. Please let us know how they respond to your request. And thank you for helping!
Finally, we frequently facilitate community meetings and education sessions to address community concerns. Have you attended one? If you’d like, we can be sure to personally invite you in the future. We assume you care for your fellow community members, all of them, without judgment, and that you want to contribute positively to everyone’s well-being and safety. We do, too! We look forward to collaborating with you as we move forward in this group project.
Indiana Recovery Alliance