Look up a Needle Exchange Program (NEP) in your area.,
Find a fixed site.,
Locate a mobile unit.,
Check for needle vending machines.,
Find a pharmacy based NEP.,
Consider if you need the program.,
Get sterile needles.,
Return used needles.,
Take part in the testing programs.,
Consider the counseling programs.,
Look into the drug rehabilitation services.,
Make return visits.
To look for an NEP in your area, do some research online. There are online databases that list NEPs in certain areas, and most organizations have their own websites to help with outreach. There are NEPs in 90 countries worldwide, so there may be one nearby.
You may also be able to ask your local doctor if he knows of a NEP in your area.
This will ensure that you find a legitimate program with proper equipment, facilities, and workers.;
, Many of the NEPs are run out of fixed sites, which are typically in areas known to have an active injected drug scene. The fixed sites are established locations for NEPs, with a staff that helps offer additional services to benefit IDUs.
These locations make it easier to provide healthcare, counseling, testing, education, and additional services to help prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases and take care of IDUs., If your area does not have a fixed site, look for a mobile unit. These mobile units operate from a bus or van, where the sterile needles are distributed through a window or door.
These units travel to areas where fixed sites cannot reach, such as rural areas or smaller cities. They also reach areas where the population of IDUs are not as large as the places for fixed sites.
Mobile units may also be affiliated with fixed site, so they act as an extension of these larger establishments.
There are some large scale mobile units, which offer a few additional services, such as disease testing., If you are not near a fixed site or have access to a mobile unit, check to see if there is a needle vending machine in your area. These are machines mounted on walls outside places where the other distribution services cannot reach and operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These machines work by giving out sterile needles after coins or tokens, which are typically given by outreach workers, are inserted into the machines.
These needles are sometimes accompanied by educational materials or other injected drug supplies., There are some countries that have NEPs that run out of pharmacies. These generally work in two ways, where they either sell needles to IDUs or exchange them for vouchers given out by outreach workers. An added benefit of pharmacy NEPs is that they are often located in areas with IDUs, meaning there is more access to them.
Pharmacy NEPs work similar to fixed sites, but often have better hours.
One major problem with them is that they are not common in low income countries. They also rarely offer education or healthcare services., NEPs are important for the prevention of blood-borne diseases among IDUs. NEPs have helped lower the transmission of HIV/AIDS by a large degree. These programs have also helped cut down considerably on the number of used needles freely available to other IDUs.
People who utilize NEPs are also five times more likely to enter drug prevention programs., Once you find the NEP accessible in your area, you can start receiving your sterile needles. The site where you visit may also be able to give you access to other supplies that you need to safely inject the drugs.
The World Health Organization suggests that each IDU gets 200 sterile needles per year., When you visit the site to get sterile needles, turn in your used needles. This will help prevent others from using your needles and get contaminated needles off the street., If you are a frequent injected drug user, you should get tested. If you have ever shared a needle with another IDU, you are at risk for blood-borne illnesses. Most fixed sites and many mobile units offer testing for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and other blood-borne diseases.
If you aren’t tested, you are also at risk of spreading diseases you don’t know you have to sexual partners or loved ones.Common symptoms of HIV include a flu-like illness 2-4 weeks after infection. These flu-like symptoms can include fever, chills, night sweats, rash, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and mouth ulcers.Common symptoms of HIV/AIDS include rapid weight loss; recurring fever; profuse night sweats; intense fatigue; swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, neck, or neck; diarrhea that lasts longer than a week; sores on the mouth, anus, or genitals; pneumonia; blotches underneath the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids; and memory loss, depression, or other neurological disorders.Common symptoms of hepatitis C include dark urine, jaundice, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and stomach pain.Common symptoms of hepatitis B include abdominal pain, dark urine, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, weakness and fatigue, and jaundice.If you have any of these symptoms of think you might have been exposed to one of these illnesses, get tested immediately.
, Many fixed sites and some mobile units offer counseling to IDUs. The workers in these places can offer you advice about how to avoid overdoses, minimize the damage done by injected drugs, and practice safe injection habits.
If you already have a blood-borne disease, NEPs often have counseling services that can help you deal with your particular situation., Many IDUs are not at a place where they want help, or they may not have an avenue for help. If you are trying to stop using injected drugs, NEPs can offer help.
They can help you get in touch with rehabilitation facilities or drug treatment programs, such as opioid substitution therapy (OST)., You should go back to your NEP often in order to keep yourself healthy. If you continue to use injected drugs, you will need access to sterile needles so you are not infected with a blood-borne disease.
You can also keep up with testing and access other healthcare offered by the NEP.