Harm Reduction

Molly Born/ WVPB

In parts of Appalachia, needle exchange programs have brought controversy, and they sometimes carry a stigma that such offerings enable, or even encourage, drug use. But supporters say the practice, especially when coupled with addiction treatment options for participants, can help get them on a path to recovery.

Molly Born / WVPB

On a warm Friday afternoon in July, Fred Cox and his team set up shop on a gravel shoulder off the side of the road, where you might see someone selling summer vegetables. With its white tent, a table, some folding chairs, and brown paper bags piled in crates, the Wyoming County health department's mobile harm reduction unit was open for business for the next half-hour. Its signature offering: a traveling needle exchange offering clean needles to intravenous drug users.

Angie Gray, Nurse Director for the Berkeley-Morgan County Health Department, shows a box of sealed, sterile syringes given to participants in her harm reduction program.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across West Virginia, people are fighting back against the opioid epidemic and pushing the message of recovery. Some of these people run harm reduction clinics – which sometimes include needle exchanges. We meet a nurse in the Eastern Panhandle who runs one of these programs.

Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

A health department in West Virginia wants an attorney to review new rules that a police chief established for a needle exchange program.