According to an article in the Press Herald, that state of Maine has set a record for the number of drug needle exchanges through their needle exchange program. The program is currently being run at the Portland’s India Street Public Health Center with the goal of keeping contaminated needles from drug usage off the streets.
A report from the Legislature by the Department of Health and Human Services stated that, “in the past five years, the number of enrollees in Maine’s needle exchange programs has increased by about 225 percent – from 1,238 in 2010 to 4,050 last year.”
In four years from 2010-2014, needle exchange saw a 238 percent increased at 166,746 to 564,847. This increase in needle usage is a clear indication that there is a significant amount of heroin use occurring.
The number of deaths related to heroin overdose has increased, “from seven in 2011 to 28 in 2012 and 34 in 2013,” said state officiants.
Those that live in Maine and are using are looking for residential treatment for heroin addiction the article stated. The Maine Office of Substance Abuse said that the number of people looking for treatment, “tripled from 1,115 to 3,463.”
Erika Ziller, a senior research associate at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service had this to say about the program, “…Interacting with workers at programs often gets them on that path to changing behavior.” Needle exchange pro-grams like the one in Maine can help more people with the realization that they may need residential treatment at a drug rehab facility.”
The use of needle exchange programs for drugs like heroin were launched in an effort to protect the public health from diseases like HIV and hepatitis C which are commonly transmitted through needle sharing.
There are some who believe that needle exchange programs are enabling those that struggle with heroin addiction to continue using. It was also found that many programs have been established in areas where there is a higher concentration of heroin use, such as in urban communities. By having programs in these specific areas, those that live in more rural community do not have access to an exchange program which makes it likely that they will engage in unhealthy drug use.
The benefits to needle exchange programs are that the public is avoiding infectious dis-ease. Those that work in the programs provide referrals to treatment centers that help those that struggle with heroin addiction.
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