Services

The services provided at syringe services programs vary. The 2013 survey found that referrals to treatment, as well as counseling and testing for HIV and for HCV are available in the vast majority of syringe services programs. However, according to responses from the 2013 survey, fewer rural syringe services programs provide naloxone (37%) than did urban (61%) or suburban (57%) syringe services programs, Syringe services programs that provide mobile distribution go to where people who inject drugs are located. Mobile units are useful for distributing syringes in remote areas or in areas where siting a fixed location is difficult due to community opposition or cost. Mobile units can also operate as part of a fixed facility to facilitate use by remote populations. Outreach workers operate in any of these facilities but can also go into communities of PWID to provide them with needles and other health related information.

Naloxone

naloxoneWhile syringe services programs provide sterile syringes, they also provide other needed services such as screening for infectious disease, wound care, contraceptive access, treatment for substance use disorders or referral services, and other health care. Syringe services programs also provide an important route for naloxone distribution to an at-risk population. Naloxone is an opioid antidote that reverses an opioid involved overdose, whether a prescription opioid, heroin, or fentanyl. Distributing naloxone widely and educating a community about overdose prevention has been shown to reduce overdose deaths.

Further, a 2017 study found that naloxone distribution at syringe services programs is cost-effective and yields health benefits. The study also found the greatest health benefits in syringe services programs that combined naloxone with linkages to addiction treatment and pre-exposure prophylaxis or PREP. PREP is an anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected.

Naloxone is a prescription drug and can be made available for distribution via a standing order if allowed under state law. A survey of syringe services programs conducted in 2013 found that 61% of urban syringe services program offered naloxone, while just 37% of programs in rural areas did. However, naloxone is increasingly being made available in most syringe services programs. Overdose reversal kits are available at syringe services programs in North Carolina to high-risk individuals. In West Virginia and Kentucky, naloxone is available through community clinics that host syringe services programs. The Network for Public Health Law provides an overview of all state laws on naloxone distribution and Good Samaritan Laws for calling 911 in case of an overdose.