HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – A syringe service program is being established by the Western U.P. Health Department in partnership with Dial Help.
The program is aimed at giving much needed resources to intravenous drug users as well as curtailing the spread of diseases and infections.
“It provides sterile needles for people who are using drugs intravenously,” said Gail Ploe, Health Education coordinator for the Western U.P. Health Department. “It also provides resources like referral to treatment, medical testing for Hepatitis-C and HIV, and people have the option of working with a peer recovery coach if they would like to.”
Reusing and sharing needles can cause a variety of health issues for intravenous drug users.
“There’s a lot of things that can go wrong when somebody is using needles to inject drugs, people get infections and those infections can become systemic and require hospitalization. They can be limb threatening, life threatening, a lot of things can go badly,” Ploe said.
The health department has teamed up with Dial Help to house this new service.
“We have been in substance abuse prevention since about 1971, it’s kind of how Dial Help started as an agency. This aligns with our mission in helping people who sometimes have a hard time reaching out and people who are in a crisis, and help them to get the help that they need,” said Kristine Putz, Assistant Director for Dial Help.
Studies have shown that programs like these often lead to many intravenous drug users seeking treatment.
“What really motivated me to get involved in the program, is that people who come into a syringe service program are about 5 to 7 times more likely to enter treatment. Not to think about it, but to actually enter treatment.”