According to Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) “Harm reduction is an approach that emphasizes engaging directly with people who use drugs to prevent overdose and infectious disease transmission, improve the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of those served, and offer low-threshold options for accessing substance use disorder treatment and other health care services”.
Why are Harm Reduction Services Needed?
Provisional data from CDC show that we have crossed the tragic milestone of a predicted 100,000 overdose deaths in 12 months from May 2020 to April 2021; this represents a nearly 29 percent increase compared to the same window of time last year.
Harm reduction services save lives by being available and accessible in a matter that emphasizes the need for humility and compassion toward people who use drugs. Harm reduction plays a significant role in preventing drug-related deaths and offering access to healthcare, social services, and treatment. These services decrease overdose fatalities, acute life-threatening infections related to unsterile drug injection, and chronic diseases such as HIV/HCV.
Harm Reduction Supplies
- Overdose reversal supplies, including the purchase of naloxone kits (this may include syringes for the purpose of administering injectable naloxone only)
- Substance test kits, including fentanyl test strips
- Safer sex kits, including condoms
- Sharps disposal and medication disposal kits
- Wound care supplies
- Medication lock boxes
- Supplies to promote sterile injection and reduce infectious disease transmission through injection drug use, exclusive of sterile needles, syringes, and other drug paraphernalia*
- Safer smoking kits to reduce infectious disease transmission, excluding pipes/pipettes and other drug paraphernalia**
- FDA-approved home testing kits for viral hepatitis (i.e., HBV and HCV) and HIV
- Written educational materials on safer injection practices and HIV and viral hepatitis and prevention, testing, treatment, and care services
- Distribution mechanisms (e.g., bags for naloxone or safer sex kits, metal boxes/containers for holding naloxone) for harm reduction supplies, including stock as otherwise described and delineated on this list
For more information on obtaining harm reduction supplies or trainings please contact us or check out our calendar for supplies & trainings in your area.
Opioid Overdose Prevention
With the prevalence of more powerful opioids, such as Fentanyl, there has never been a greater need for effective and fast-acting opioid overdose prevention treatments. One treatment stands out as a proven and lifesaving means of preventing an opioid overdose: Naloxone (also known as Narcan).
- Naloxone – known as an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks the opioid receptors and prevents the rewarding effects of opioids. It is most readily available as a nasal spray, meant to be administered to anyone suffering from an opioid overdose. When administered, it effectively “ends” the user’s deadly high and provides a 30 to 90-minute window for the user to receive proper medical attention.
- N-CAP (Naxolone Co-Payment Assistance Program) – a New York program meant to eliminate or greatly reduce the cost of co-payments when receiving Naxolone from a participating pharmacy.
Good Samaritan Law
The outcome of any overdose is largely determined by how quickly the person receives help, and often those who are overdosing or witnessing an overdose don’t call 911 out of fear of arrest. The New York State Good Samaritan Law protects everyone, regardless of age, who seeks medical help for themselves or someone else during an overdose. Even those who are in possession of illicit drugs (less than 8 ounces), drug paraphernalia, or alcohol where underage drinking is involved, don’t have to fear arrest or prosecution as a result of calling 911 for an overdose. This crucial law empowers and encourages anyone who witnesses an overdose to call 911 and get the victim the help they need.
In order to prevent misuse of medications, Columbia and Greene County have several locations where you can dispose any of unused, unwanted, or expired prescription and nonprescription Medication. By disposing of medications properly you will:
- Prevent drug abuse
- Prevent accidental overdose
- Prevent accidental poisoning of children and pets
- Reduce crime by keeping drugs off the street
- Reduce environment pollution
- Protect our local nature and water supply
Columbia and Greene County Medication Take Back Locations
Coxsackie Village Police Department
119 Mansion Street, Coxsackie
Open: 8am – 12am Daily
Chatham Police Department
77 Main Street, Chatham
Call CC Sheriff, ask for Chatham drop box
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office
85 Industrial Tract, Greenport
Columbia County Sheriff’s Substation
Crossroad at Rt 22 and Rt 23, Hillsdale
Greene County Sheriff’s Office
80 Bridge Street, Catskill
Open: 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday
Hudson Police Department
701 Union Street, Hudson
2967 Rt 9, Valatie
Open: 7am – 11pm Daily
4852 Rt 81, Greeneville
Available during open hours
12189 Rt 9W, West Coxsackie
Available during open hours
Town of Cairo Police Department
123 Angelo Canna Park, Cairo
Open: 8am – 12am Daily
Call to drop off: (518) 622-2324
Town of Durham Police Station
7309 Rt 81, East Durham
Open: 7am – 3pm Daily
Call to drop off: (518) 239-6310
Town of Windham Police Department
371 Rt 296, Hensonville
Open: 9am – 3pm Daily
Call to drop off: (518) 734-3030
Carry naloxone (Narcan®).
Help save a life.
Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a medicine that can save someone’s life if they are overdosing on opioids—whether it’s a prescription opioid pain medicine, heroin, or a drug containing fentanyl. It is not a treatment for opioid addiction. Naloxone quickly blocks and reverses the effects of an overdose. You can tell it is working because it quickly helps a person breathe normally.
Signs of an opioid overdose include:
Very slow or shallow breathing
Not responding when called, touched, or shaken
Carry naloxone with you every day. You can be a first responder. You can save a life.
Tips for Reducing the Risk of Overdose
If an individual is still over-using opioids, it’s crucial to establish a “safety list” meant to reduce the amount of harm they expose themselves to and reduce the risk of overdose as much as possible. A well-prepared list typically includes the following steps:
- Try to know what it is that you’re using before injecting/taking it.
- Make sure there’s someone who knows where you are and that you can check-in with them if necessary.
- Make sure to carry Naxolone on you and have it out when you are using opioids.
- If you’re unsure of the strength or composition of the drug, inject/use it slowly, gauge its strength, and wait before doing more.
- If you’re using with other people, be sure and “stagger” each dose (allowing one person to use and seeing if their dose was too strong/laced with Fentanyl) and have Naxolone on hand if someone overdoses.
- If you do suspect you or someone else is overdosing, don’t delay, apply Naxolone and call 911 immediately.
Project Safe Point and Greener Pathways
There are many programs and services designed to assist those who wish to manage their drug addiction or reduce the amount of harm they expose themselves to. Project Safe Point and Greener Pathways offer harm reduction services and resources, along with essential community outreach programs and addiction recovery services, in order to help individuals and their communities live safer, healthier lives.
- Project Safe Point – A harm reduction service provider servicing the Greater Capital Region, and the originator of the area’s first Syringe Exchange Program. They are proud to offer syringe exchange services (free and completely anonymous), training in overdose prevention methods, treatment readiness programs and referrals to doctors and rehab clinics, and HIV and Hepatitis C screenings. Project Safe Point currently services 12 counties and offers syringe exchange services in other areas by appointment.
- Greener Pathways – A Mobile Outreach Community program that provides individuals with many traditional and progressive recovery services such as personalized treatment programs, harm reduction resources, assistance with transportation, Telehealth sessions, peer to peer support networks and connection to medications to help support recovery. Greener Pathways Peer Advocates use their lived recovery experience to help guide people on choosing their own pathway to recovery.
Syringe Kiosks and Syringe Exchange
One of the easiest and fastest ways for disease to spread among drug users is by sharing or re-using syringes. Typically, only those who are prescribed medication have access to fresh, clean syringes, but there are now many syringe kiosks and syringe exchanges in or around Columbia and Greene Counties that can reduce the risk of contracting diseases such as Hep-C or HIV.
- Syringe Kiosk – Generally a kiosk or anonymous drop box where users can safely and securely dispose of their used syringes, these are usually present at syringe exchanges as well. There are currently several kiosks/drop boxes located within or nearby Columbia and Greene Counties.
- Syringe Exchange – A site that provides users with fresh, sterile syringes (typically without needing a prescription), in addition to providing a secure and safe site to dispose of their used syringes. Syringe exchanges often offer additional services to individuals, such as Hep-C or HIV screenings, along with Naloxone and other helpful harm reduction resources.