Erasing the stigma: Part 3

If you’ve been reading my editorials the last couple weeks you have a pretty good idea about what Harm Reduction is and how it can benefit the community. If you haven’t been keeping up, here’s a quick recap.

Harm Reduction programs are designed to provide public health services for individuals who inject drugs in a safe and judgment-free environment. These programs provide resources, education, and rehabilitation opportunities. Harm Reduction serves people who use drugs, while also protecting community members and visitors.

Harm Reduction encompasses a variety of programs such as Needle Exchange Clinics. In an effort to reduce the spread of transmittable diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis, these clinics offer drug users contraception and a place to exchange their needles.

Many people will shy away from Harm Reduction and Needle Exchange clinics due to beliefs that these programs “enable” or “encourage” drug use. This is simply not true. Providing a place for people who use drugs to trade their used needles for clean needles allows for a healthier community. These programs prevent the spread of disease from sharing needles, while also safely disposing of dirty needles.

But these programs don’t just protect drug users. They protect the community. Harm Reduction clinics reduce the likelihood of contracting diseases like Hepatitis or HIV, while also reducing the likelihood of your child finding a used needle on the playground.

Once again, these programs aren’t intended to make IV drug use easier. They’re intended to protect places where drugs are a problem. Taylor County is one of those places.

In response to the growing drug problem in Taylor County, our Public Health section has opened a clinic once a week for Harm Reduction services. These services are completely free of charge and confidential. Scheduling an appointment is as easy as calling our office and asking for one of our Public Health Nurses.

If you, or someone you know, could benefit from Harm Reduction services, contact one of our Public Health Nurses at 304-265-1288 or visit our website at

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