EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - We dug into the overdose numbers in Vanderburgh County and now we are learning of a new organization aiming to turn those numbers around.
Newly formed Evansville Recovery Alliance says a syringe was recently found on the Franklin Street bridge sidewalk.
“The number one reason given for not properly disposing of a syringe is fear of felony arrest,” says John Pritchett, leader of the Evansville Recovery Alliance.
Group leaders, like Pritchett, are working towards a harm reduction efforts for Evansville and even provide free narcan and training without stigma.
“I spent 25 out of the 38 years I’ve been alive in active chaotic drug use,” said Pritchett.
Nine Indiana counties currently have syringe exchange programs, the nearest within the state to us are: Monroe, Scott and Clark counties.
Dirty needles don’t discriminate and sharing them and syringes to inject drugs put people at high risk for getting or transmitting HIV and other infections.
“I used a syringe that was shared was by an individual one time that was supposedly cleaned with bleach which would’ve taken care of the problem and contracted Hep-C,” Pritchett explained.
The CDC reports people who inject drugs account for about 1 in 10 HIV diagnoses in the U.S. And that HIV can survive in a used needle for up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
The state health department saying studies over the last four decades have found the exchanges are effective at reducing the use of injecting drugs and help addicts to successful recovery.
“The motto we go by is ‘any positive change,'” says Pritchett.
Evansville Recovery Alliance has collaborated with the Aids Resource Group which also offers “risk reduction supplies” except for clean syringes.
“They can come hang out, they can volunteer with us," said Pritchett. "We do not turn people who use drugs away. Our ultimate goal is to de-stigmatize people who use drugs.”
The state health department says in order to bring a syringe exchange program here, a local health officer would have to declare a public health emergency. Also, the program would require county leader approval.