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Needle exchange being used to help combat opioid deaths

(WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) -- It started as a way to combat the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. Now, the needle exchange program is trying to reduce the number of opioid deaths in Montgomery County.

There are three places addicts can exchange needles. Today, Fox 45 talked with "Angie" as she picked up new syringes today (June 9) from the Life Enrichment Center.

"At least we can come here and we know we're getting clean ones," said "Angie" a woman who doesn't want her real name used.

The health department started the needle exchange two years ago to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

Now, with so many opioiod deaths, the program is trying to get addicts exchanging needles into programs to get clean.

"There's not one thing individually that's going to lower the rate, so we have to use a lot of different strategies to do that, this is just one of them. We're building trust between our health workers and the clients and then after a period of time, we can help them get that treatment," said Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County's Public Information Supervisor Dan Suffoletto.

"They can give us referrals to other places like rehab or if we need housing assistance or food." said "Angie.".

The needle exchange program is also at Mount Olive Baptist Church.

"No questions asked," said Pastor Carlton Williams.


Mount Olive just started in January.

"They've been doing it on the East side for I think maybe two years now. That program has been highly successful and certainly we intend to replicate the success on the west side," said Williams.

39,195 needles have been exchanged in Montgomery County through May this year.

During that time there have been 1,360 clients. Of those, 219 are new clients.

"Angie" said being an addict is tough

"It's awful, the worse thing in the world," said "Angie."

"The exchange program does a lot of good for a lot of people, and it's all about helping people get help and saving lives," said Suffoletto.

Addicts have to drop off needles in order to get free new ones. There's no limit.

They can do so at the Vogel Health Center on Tuesdays

At Mount Olive on Thursdays and at the Life Enrichment Center on Fridays.

The hours are 9 am until 3:30 pm.

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