The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is trying to bring critical harm reduction practices, which are designed to lessen the negative consequences of drug use, to medical centers across the country. Harm reduction includes Syringe Services Programs (SSPs), where legally allowed, provide clean syringes and equipment to people who inject drugs. They also provide critical services like infectious disease testing, naloxone prescribing and linkage to mental health services.
Research shows SSPs don’t increase illegal drug use or increase the crime rate in the geographic area where they are located. But they do increase the likelihood of entry into substance use disorder treatment, reduce new HIV and hepatitis C infections and prevent overdose deaths.