Supervisors approve needle exchange for drug users


County supervisors on Tuesday agreed to create a needle alternate program as a part of a technique to scale back well being dangers for intravenous drug customers.

The board’s three Democrats — Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas — supported it. Republican Supervisors Jim Desmond and Joel Anderson opposed it.

“We all know these applications can save lives and assist assault the rising epidemic of habit in our group,” Fletcher mentioned. “The proof couldn’t be extra clear.”

Desmond mentioned the needle alternate program could be treating the symptom fairly than the issue. He mentioned he would fairly see extra efforts towards drug abuse prevention.

“Giving out needles nonetheless has the looks of selling drug abuse,” he mentioned.

Anderson mentioned he opposes it “for now” and will vote for it later after county employees members return with particulars about how it could have an effect on District 2, which he represents.

Lisa Asmus, a San Diego State College researcher, instructed the board that previously 9 years there have been extra drug overdoses in East County than in different parts of the county. District 2 contains East County.

“I’m not snug with voting after which later studying that the entire clinics are going to be positioned in my district,” Anderson mentioned, including that he understood that such applications have been profitable.

The board’s vote strikes down a 1997 board decision opposing needle alternate applications. The county’s chief administrative officer will now create a plan for a syringe service and return inside 90 days with a substance hurt discount technique.

Syringe service and hurt discount applications are geared toward stopping overdoses and the transmission of such ailments as HIV or Hepatitis C. Hurt discount applications additionally embrace habit therapy and psychological well being assist.

Essentially the most controversial part is needle alternate providers. Two of the 9 individuals who weighed in mentioned such applications encourage drug use, decrease the notion of danger and would improve the variety of addicts coming right into a group.

Christian Ramers, chief of inhabitants well being at Household Well being Facilities of San Diego, mentioned many perceptions about needle exchanges are incorrect.

For example, he mentioned, opponents have mentioned needle exchanges end in extra used needles on sidewalks and streets and extra drug addicts.

“The alternative is true,” he mentioned.

Household Well being Middle of San Diego has taken in about 5.7 million syringes and distributed 5.2 million since 2002, he mentioned, that means there have been fewer discarded needles out within the public.

And a few research, together with one in every of nearly 3,000 intravenous drug customers in King County, Washington, discovered that syringe alternate applications doubtless elevated individuals getting into drug therapy and decreased their drug use.

“Syringe-exchange applications are designed to offer individuals an off-road from a freeway of chaotic drug use that they’ll’t get off of,” Ramers mentioned. “How are you going to interact this inhabitants in case you don’t meet them the place they’re and provides them a possibility to hunt care after they’re prepared?”

A U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention report on 15 scientific papers discovered needle exchanges considerably decreased illness transmission. In a single New York examine, researchers discovered the prevalence of hepatitis C amongst intravenous drug customers fall from 80 % to 59 % from 1990 to 2001.


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