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Syringe Distribution Programs Can Improve Public Health During the Opioid Overdose Crisis

Posted 3/17/2021 (updated 9/2/2021)

Over the past decade, attempts to address the overdose crisis in the U.S. have resulted in more restrictive opioid prescribing policies—which, because they have reduced the overall availability of prescription opioids, have inadvertently led to a surge in the use of illicit drugs such as heroin.

To reduce the risks posed by the use or sharing of unsterile equipment (disease and infection), state governments should consider facilitating the use of syringe services programs (SSPs), which distribute free, new, sterile syringes to PWID. Such programs also often offer other services, such as vaccinations and education on preventing overdoses, and have also been shown to improve the odds that PWID will seek and engage with treatment.