Syringe Access

Syringe access saves lives

Syringe access programs (SAPs) are an essential public health service that provide new, sterile syringes, naloxone (brand name Narcan, the medicine that reverses an overdose), connections to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and healthcare services, and community care for people who use drugs.
Syringe access is essential health care service for people living with a substance use disorder.

According to the CDC, people with access to a syringe access program are:

  • Less likely to die from an opioid-related overdose
  • Five times more likely to stop substance use that causes them problems
  • Three times more likely to stop substance use altogether
  • 50 percent less likely to acquire HIV or Hepatitis C

Syringe access is globally understood to be a best practice in public health, and is endorsed by the New Jersey Department of Health, World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and U.S Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

Syringe access has bipartisan support nationally and is championed by current and former U.S. Surgeon Generals.

New Jersey Needs Expanded Syringe Services

As overdose deaths rise, New Jersey needs more syringe access programs as a lifeline for people who use drugs. Yet, even when local officials and health departments want to provide such services, they are nearly impossible to open due to New Jersey’s restrictive and outdated syringe access law.
Current law requires municipal authorization before any new programs open — a barrier that does not exist for any other health care service.
  • New Jersey only has seven syringe access programs serving a state of over nine million residents (in fewer than 1.2 percent of municipalities)
  • Syringe access in New Jersey lags behind other states — for example, Kentucky has over 20 times more syringe access programs per capita than New Jersey
  • New Jersey’s restrictive law is cited by Pew Charitable Trusts as “what not to do” to prevent overdose deaths
  • The cost of an outdated and discriminatory restriction is passed to municipalities, which would save an estimated $7 for every $1 spent on syringe access services
  • People who use drugs, who are denied access to basic healthcare to prevent overdoses, HIV, Hepatitis C, and skin infections that can prove deadly
  • Family members and loved ones who support their loved ones through preventable illnesses and grieve preventable deaths
  • People in recovery who are told that, should they return to use, appropriate healthcare would not be available
  • Elected leaders who want to end the overdose crisis yet are burdened with having to put basic healthcare and human decency up for a vote

We Need Your Help!

There is proposed legislation to remove restrictive barriers to syringe access and make this essential service available to all residents regardless of zip code. New Jersey’s deep history of stigmatizing and criminalizing drug use makes it vital that anyone who cares about syringe access lends your voice to policy change.

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Harm reduction is essential. A harm reduction approach to drug use is the best strategy we have to end the overdose crisis, reduce risks associated with drug use, and affirm the dignity and bodily autonomy of every New Jerseyan.

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