Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a practical set of strategies designed help people involved in addiction. Strategies of harm reduction include but aren’t limited to syringe exchange, peer support, Narcan training, health education, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, connection to treatment, and other support strategies.

Watch the informational video here for details on why a harm reduction program is needed and what it includes.


There are no instances of a health department being sued for services provided in a HRSEP in Kentucky.

We will not turn away anyone from the program based on their county of residence. It is worth noting that right now, our IV drug users are traveling to other counties to exchange their syringes. Needle-exchanges bring in people from surrounding communities who might not have one in their hometowns or who want an added level of anonymity.

A needle-exchange program is designed to stop the spread of hepatitis C and HIV. It is very unlikely that a person with diabetes shares their needles with others. People with diabetes usually have insurance that covers most if not all of their diabetic supplies.

SEPs “enable” IV drug users to make safer choices with their injection practices. It also offers connection to testing and treatment that may never be offered to them. Also, studies continue to show that the programs REDUCE the amount of drug use by getting people into rehabilitation services.

No, there is no known reports to support that SEPs increase drug use.

Local hospitals and treatment facilities are reporting an active IV drug use community in the county. All it takes in one case of HIV or hepatitis C to start an outbreak through a shared needle. Don’t wait for a “big enough problem;” instead, starting a program now allows better prevention.

No, there is no evidence that SEPs increase crime.

No, each container is opened by the participant, and viewed by the SEP worker. A visual count is done by the worker and then the participant disposes of the used syringes into a sharps container.

How can the health department know who is leaving the county to use programs in other communities since all programs are anonymous?

With the opioid epidemic on the rise, there will be no shortage of grants for the foreseeable future. Our hope is that one day the program will no longer be needed. If funding were to become and issue, we would look at other grants to cover costs. Some programs run for as little as $5,000 per year.

It is not our values to encourage drug use, simply to reduce the risk of spreading HCV and HIV. There are no plans for injection sites in Kentucky.

A visual count is done by the SEP worker each time a participant comes in for an exchange. If ten syringes are brought in, then 10 will be given out. No exceptions.

While heroin is often injected, injection drug use with meth and suboxone is common and continues to rise.

People in recovery face multiple triggers throughout any given day while carrying out their activities of daily life. For instance, people in recovery for alcohol have to deal with triggers most places they go, as alcohol sales are pervasive (in most grocery/convenient stores). Dealing with triggers is part of recovery.