The Needle Exchange Program: Through the Eyes of a Former User


Any issue will have many sides to it, including points of view that come from all walks of life. For the third installation of the needle exchange program series, a former addict weighs in on why they believe that this particular approach with the needle exchange program will not help as well as some assume.

As a bit of history to this former user’s experience, they stated that they mostly used meth, although they would partake in heroin about once every couple of months. Their primary tool for the drug use was needle injection. However, it was stated that they would smoke it occasionally as well.

When prompted to explain why they believe that the exchange is not a good idea, they stated that even though it could help with lowering the chance for disease spread, it will not help lower the drug use. In fact, it could aid in increasing it.

“Lowering the drug use is going to lower the spread of diseases even more,” they stated.

However, from the aspect of a user, this particular individual stated that if they were still using drugs, they would partake in the program and would also be willing to exchange their old needles. In the days of use, to dispose of used needles, they would simply roll them in plastic bags and throw them in the trash. This user was not one that had ever thrown a used needle in the streets.

Not everyone that is a drug user is a dirty user. For this individual, they took great caution and care when injecting. The former addict would refuse to use a needle that she wasn’t certain was brand-new, and did not share. However, many other users would request to have their old needles and did not seem to care that they had been previously used.

With that in mind, this ex-user does believe that they are an exception to the rule and do think that most users are a lot more reckless. They have heard, indirectly, that people associated with users they came in contact with had HIV or AIDS. The former user also recalled a time that they found a bundle of needles on the side of the road.

When asked whether or not they believed that having “the works” included in the needle exchange program would be helpful, the individual refuted a big reason that it is thought to be. The use of cotton to dilute the drug before it is used could also hold and pass the diseases. However, this particular former user states that they never used cotton and did not know many users that did. One reason for this is that it is believed to be a waste of the drug.

From the eyes of a former drug addict that knows the emotion and struggle, a system such as sober living homes in Castle Country would be a much better and useful idea. And while many citizens do not like the idea of the sober homes due to the fact that recovering addicts would be in their area, this former user stated that they already are. In fact, some are not trying to get clean and are even in the business of distribution.

“Your perfect next-door neighbor that you would never suspect are sometimes the people that are selling,” they stated.

Another idea that this ex-addict is in favor of is the idea of making the needle exchange more formal than it is now. They have heard of different cities that have entire buildings with cubicles dedicated to the exchange program. To this individual, if the exchange program were executed in this fashion, it would yield more results and be better supported.

“The program is still just enabling, in my opinion,” concluded the former user.

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