Ingham County “Needle Exchange Program” aims to stop spread of diseases

INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – Addiction…a problem that causes havoc and is difficult to overcome.

This is something Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail hopes to combat with a new program called the “Needle Exchange Program.”

“What that is…is a program for people who basically use needles to inject drugs to keep them safe from the many infections that they can get that also can be very expensive and very life-devastating,” said Vail.

Infections including HIV, Hepatitis C, etc.

Vail says the initiative hasn’t been approved by the Center for Disease Control yet but she’s hopeful it will lead people to recovery.

“It is a way to connect with people, have conversations with people…meet them where they are,” Vail stated.

Vail says the “Needle Exchange Program” is controversial…some may see it as a way of encouraging an addiction but Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum who is on a needle exchange committee, believes it could help turn someone’s life around.

“Syringe access has been proven not to increase the use of drugs but rather serve as a bridge towards recovery for those drug users,” said Byrum.

“The long term goal is to make sure people in Ingham County who have still not made the decision that they are ready for recovery to use their drugs safely,” Vail stated.

With the hope of eventually overcoming their addiction.

If approved, the program would be funded through federal grants and would be available at non-profit organizations and recovery facilities.

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