Syringe Services Program
What is a SSP?
Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) are community-based prevention programs based in the principles of harm reduction that provide a range of services, including access to sterile supplies and disposal of used syringes and injection equipment; overdose prevention including distribution of naloxone (Narcan) and fentanyl test strips; safer injection techniques; wound care supplies; linkage to substance use disorder treatment, including medicated assisted therapy; and linkage to care and treatment for infectious diseases.
SSPs protect the public and first responders by facilitating the safe disposal of used needles and syringes. Providing testing, counseling, and sterile injection supplies help prevent outbreaks of HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases.
Nearly thirty years of research shows that comprehensive SSPs are safe, effective, and cost-saving, does not increase illegal drug use or crime, and play an important role in reducing the transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV and other infections.
Face to Face provides syringe exchange and overdose prevention services Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. We provide services to over 3,000 individuals a year, and have a 79% return rate of syringes, keeping our community safe and clean by preventing used equipment from being discarded on the streets.
What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in the rights of people who use drugs. As outlined above, Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence. The goal is to meet drug users “where they’re at,” free of judgment, addressing conditions of use along with the use itself.
The Harm Reduction Coalition identifies the following principles as central to harm reduction practice:
- Accepts, for better and or worse, that licit and illicit drug use is part of our world and chooses to work to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them.
- Understands drug use as a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence, and acknowledges that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others.
- Establishes quality of individual and community life and well-being–not necessarily cessation of all drug use–as the criteria for successful interventions and policies.
- Calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm.
- Ensures that drug users and those with a history of drug use routinely have a real voice in the creation of programs and policies designed to serve them.
- Affirms drugs users themselves as the primary agents of reducing the harms of their drug use, and seeks to empower users to share information and support each other in strategies which meet their actual conditions of use.
- Recognizes that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other social inequalities affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug-related harm.
- Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger associated with licit and illicit drug use.
Why are SSP’s relevant?
The nation is currently experiencing an opioid crisis involving the misuse of prescription opioid pain relievers as well as heroin and fentanyl. Additionally, the US has seen a four-fold increase in methamphetamine use between 2011 and 2017, with hospitalizations related to meth increasing approximately 245% from 2008 to 2015. Another explanation for the rising death rate is that meth has become contaminated with fentanyl. The increase in substance use has resulted in related increases in injection drug use across the country. This has caused not only large increases in overdose deaths, but also tens of thousands of viral hepatitis infections annually and is threatening recent progress made in HIV prevention.
Research shows that new users of SSPs are five times more likely to enter drug treatment and about three times more likely to stop using drugs than those who don’t use the programs. SSPs that provide naloxone and overdose prevention education also help decrease opioid overdose deaths. We hear every day first hand stories of the increasing numbers of overdoses, and the importance of the naloxone and fentanyl test strips we provide which save lives every day.
How does Face to Face help people access treatment for substance use?
We are an access point for individuals who would like to receive Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT). MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders. We are here to help support you through this process, with dignity and respect every step of the way. Our partners include:
• Santa Rosa Community Health (SAFE) Program
• Redwood Empire addictions Program (REAP)
• West County Health Centers
• Santa Rosa Treatment Program (SRTP)
• More to come
What should I do if I find used syringes, needles or other equipment on the street?
Face to Face accepts used syringes and equipment, disposing of them safely so that needles and other injection equipment is off our streets. While there are no documented cases of HIV infection through contact with a needle or syringe discarded in a public place, we do support keeping our community clean and safe. If you find littered syringes on the street, you can contact Face to Face for support.
You can also call the city or local government to voice concern and advocate for syringe disposal kiosks in your neighborhood. This will inform local government for the need for syringe drop boxes due to consistent issues with littered syringes in your neighborhood. Impact from this will likely not be immediate, however it will create a track record so when resources become available, documentation and data will be used to support your requests.
You can also contact Face to Face to receive free Bio Hazzard containers (BIO Buckets) to be proactive in discarding littered syringes. If you do discard them yourself,
- Use of common sense and universal safety precautions
- Use Bio Hazzard, SHARPS/bio Bucket. 2 liter soda bottle, CLOROX bottle, Gatorade bottle
- Wear gloves, gardening, dishwashing, medical, etc.
- Wear close toed shoes
- Always pick up one syringe at a time
- Use a clipper or grabber instrument if available
- Always pick up by the barrel towards the end of the syringe
- Discard needlepoint first into SHARPS container
- Discard injecting equipment like, cookers, cottons, and tourniquets, alcohol swabs, in the bio bucket sharps container
- Contact Face to Face if you have any questions
- Don’t panic and do not do anything you are uncomfortable with
- Do not pick up more than one syringe at a time
- If you have an open wounds, do not pick up needles without gloves
- Don’t wear flip flops or shorts
If you have questions about opioid overdose prevention and would like to request a training, please contact our offices at 707.544.1581. We provide education to individual trainers or groups, including how to administer naloxone (Narcan) and reverse an overdose.
Face to Face
873 Second Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
9 AM - 4:30 PM
Rapid HIV Testing
Tuesday to Friday
9:00 A.M. to 4:30 PM
First Wednesday of Each Month
First Thursday of Each Month