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How to Find a Needle Exchange Program

Accessing Needle Exchange and Harm Reduction Services

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Updated April 09, 2014

By their very nature, needle exchange programs require a private and secluded location. This protects the privacy of people who attend the program. So where do you find a needle exchange, without revealing your drug addiction? Below are some needle exchange resources for several worldwide locations.

United States Needle Exchange Programs(by State)

This clickable map, offered by the Harm Reduction Coalition, provides information on harm reduction resources, including needle exchange programs in the United States. The site also offers additional, user-generated program information.

Canada Needle Exchange Programs

There is not currently an online system detailing all the needle exchange programs by province. However, your local health authority should have a list of needle exchange programs and locations. This link to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority website, for example, allows you to search for your health authority and then for "needle exchange."

UK Needle Exchange Schemes

There are over 1,000 needle exchange schemes in the United Kingdom, which include Drug Action Teams, pharmacies, and specialist services. The easiest way to find the location of your nearest needle exchange is to ask at your local pharmacy (who may actually have one), ask your doctor (general practitioner), or look up your local Drug Action Team in the phone book or online. You can also call the National Health Service (NHS) helpline, NHS Direct, for free, confidential information on local services and self-help resources (0845 4647).

Ireland Needle Exchange Schemes

The Irish Needle Exchange Forum is working on compiling a list of needle exchange schemes in Ireland. You can browse the site for general information now and outreach to them directly, in the meantime, via e-mail (inef@inef.ie).

Western Australia Needle and Syringe Exchange Program

The Needle and Syringe Exchange Program provides clean equipment and disposal services both on-site and via a mobile service. If you find a needle or syringe, you can call 800-552-355 or your council, and they will arrange disposal of the needle.

New Zealand Needle Exhanges

The Needle Exchange Programme's website offers a complete listing of the 15 needle exchanges in New Zealand.

Safe Needle Disposal

If you can't find a needle exchange program, please dispose of your used needles responsibly. Don't put them in the trash. Give them to your local pharmacy, doctor's office, or hospital, who may provide you with a sharps container. If a disposal container is not available, many U.S. states recommend using a bottle with a screw-top cap (carefully marked as containing needles). Please note that people often collect used bottles and cans to collect recycling fee refunds, so be sure to dispose of the bottle in a location unlikely to be accessed by the public, and choose a bottle that cannot be pierced and does not have a recycling refund. Soda bottles are particularly risky because they are attractive to bottle collectors.

Re-using Needles

Re-using needles is hazardous, not only because of the risk of infection, but also because needles get blunter with each use and damage your veins. If you do re-use a needle, first clean it thoroughly with full-strength household bleach for at least 30 seconds and flush it out with boiled water to reduce the risk of infection. Never use a needle that has been used by someone else.
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