AskPETRA About Being Safe

Harm reduction is a set of strategies aimed at reducing the negative effects of drug use. It considers the individuals living with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) as well as the communities in which they live. There are several parts to reducing risk: making sure that those with an active SUD take ownership for reducing risk; identifying that the quality of life –both for the individual and the community- may not necessarily count on completely stopping the use of substances; and that the very real danger of substance misuse is acknowledged.

A major priority in harm reduction is meeting people where they’re at. This may mean accepting that someone will continue to use substances while taking steps to make sure that they are as safe as possible as they do. For example: carrying naloxone (the life saving opioid overdose reversal drug also known as Narcan), using fentanyl test strips, practicing safer sex, and more (see below).

For access to sterile supplies, text “SAFE” to 603-259-4820

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AskPETRA can provide you with a naloxone kit that can help you save a life.

Each kit includes two doses of naloxone, latex gloves, a CPR mask, fentanyl test strips, and educational materials that provide information on safer substance use, HIV testing, what to do after you’ve used naloxone, and more. Contact us today for your free kit or anonymously, you can get a free kit 24-7 from the AskPETRA vending machine located outside at the main entrance to 262 Cottage St (old hospital location).

Could you identify someone who is overdosing?

One of the most important factors in Harm Reduction is knowing how to identify an overdose. An overdose is taking too much of any substance. Drug overdoses may be accidental or intentional and can lead to serious medical complications including death. The seriousness of a drug overdose depends on a lot of things including which substance has been taken, how much has been taken, and the physical and medical history of the person who has taken the substance.

AskPETRA can provide postcards, posters, and flyers such as those seen above to share with your clients, patients, or members of your community.

To order kits or materials, contact AskPETRA at 603-259-1729 or

What is Narcan?

Narcan, also known as naloxone, comes in both a nasal spray and injectable form. Narcan is most widely used in the nasal spray form and is used to counteract an opioid overdose to save lives.

Where can I get naloxone/Narcan?

AskPETRA has kits containing Narcan, CPR masks, fentanyl test strips, and other harm reduction items available for free to anyone in Northern NH who wants them. For more information or to receive yours, call 603-279-1729 or email

In addition, naloxone/Narcan is available for free by calling 211 or at your local Doorway:

  • The Doorway at Androscoggin Valley Hospital: 603-342-5000
  • The Doorway at Little Regional Healthcare: 603-259-1659

You can also get it without a prescription at your local pharmacy, but there may be a cost if you do not have health insurance.

What is a Syringe Services Program (SSP)?
Watch this short video to learn about Harm Reduction.

A Syringe Services Program (SSP) is a program that provides an array of services to people who inject drugs (PWID). Syringe services can include safe disposal containers for needles and syringes; an exchange program for needles, syringes and other injection equipment; HIV and hepatitis testing and education; wound education; referrals to substance use disorder and mental health treatment; and more.

While there can be a stigma attached to SSPs, the truth is that individuals who use IV drugs are five times more likely to enter treatment and more likely to reduce or stop injecting when they have access to an SSP (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). In addition, by providing a safe place to get rid of used needles, SSPs significantly reduce the risk of accidental needlestick injuries to first responders and members of the community. This pdf explains more about the benefits of SSPs in your community.

Wound Care

Wounds and infections are common among people who inject drugs (PWID). Unfortunately, homelessness, limited access to sterile supplies, stigma, and little to no access to basic hygiene needs are all barriers to wound care and getting treatment. Common wounds and infections can include abscesses, blood poisoning, infection of the heart lining, tetanus, collapsed veins, and hepatitis. While most PWID are offered additional medical and mental health treatment when they seek treatment for their wounds, many do not seek it out due to fear and stigma.

Click here for more information on ways to prevent wounds and infections, and the proper treatment if necessary.

Screening and Testing for HIV/ Hepatitis C

Early diagnosis of HIV and Hepatitis C is important because it provides access to treatment, education and other resources which benefits the health of the individual and helps prevent the spread of the viruses. Often if someone is at risk for one infection, they are also at risk for the other. Effective treatment can eliminate or significantly contain the viruses, making early, accessible testing even more critical for the health of the individual and the community

Access recordings from the Town Hall Series: Harm Reduction and Rural Health: Taking Action for Our Communities

Our Northern NH communities are under threat of another epidemic: a surge of HIV and Hepatitis C. We can stop it if we work together. The recordings below are from the virtual Town Hall Series, a collaboration between North Country Health Consortium and NH Listens.

Session 1: Preventing a Rural HIV Outbreak in NH: Lessons from the DISCERNNE Study. Comparisons between a rural Northern New England study and the HIV epidemic in Indiana and how our communities can prevent an outbreak locally. Speaker: Dr. Kerry Nolte, PhD, FNP-C, Assistant Professor of Nursing, UNH; Chair, NH Harm Reduction Coalition
Session 2: Harm Reduction Methods, Including Syringe Service Programs (SSPs), Syringe Disposal, and Availability of the Overdose-Reversal Drug, Naloxone. Speaker: Ryan Fowler, CRSW, Harm Reduction Coordinator, HIV/HCV Resource Center (H2RC) in Lebanon, NH
Session 3: Medical Care- Treatment as Prevention and PrEP (a prescription which has been shown to be highly effective for preventing HIV): An Effective Response for Rural Providers to HIV Prevention. Speakers: Jess Wisocky, ARPN PrEP and HIV Medical Care Provider and Katie Cailleach, RN, Dartmouth Hitchcock Infectious Disease Department
Session 4: HIV Testing and Linkage to Medical Care: Increasing Access to Medical Care and Support Services in Rural Communities. Speaker: Jean Adie, Outreach Specialist, Dartmouth Hitchcock HIV Program
sAFER sEX: stdS

A good way to reduce your risk of STDs is to limit your sexual activity to one partner who is only having sex with you.

Before starting sexual relations with a new partner, ask about their sexual activity, IV drug use, and history of STDs.

Consider sexual activities other than vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. There are other techniques that do not involve the exchange of body fluids or contact between mucous membranes.

Use condoms and lubricant (lube) every time you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex. For oral sex, help protect your mouth by having your partner use a condom (male or female) or a dental dam (female).

Contact a healthcare provider if you have any signs of a sore, blister, rash, or discharge.

See a healthcare provider for regular pelvic exams and periodic tests for STDs.

Practice safe injection techniques: Sharing needles or other injection equipment can increase the risk of contracting STDs like HIV and hepatitis. Always use clean equipment and avoid sharing needles.

Common Myths about stds

MYTH: Condoms provide complete protection against STDs. FACT: While condoms do reduce the risk of transmission, they’re not 100% effective, particularly for STDs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact.

MYTH: You can’t get an STD if yo u only have oral or anal sex. FACT: STDs can be transmitted through oral or anal sex, as well as vaginal intercourse.

MYTH: STDs will go away when treated. FACT: While some STDs can be treated with medication, others remain for life.

MYTH: STDs can be cured with over-the-counter remedies. FACT: Most STDs require medical treatment, and some cannot be cured, only managed, throughout life.

MYTH: If you don’t have symptoms, you don’t have an STD. FACT: Many people with STDs have no symptoms, so it’s important to get tested regularly if you’re sexually active.

sAFER sEX: pregnancy

Effective methods of preventing pregnancy include using birth control pills, condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and sterilization. Ask a healthcare professional what is best for you.

Plan B – also known as the “morning after pill” – is an emergency contraceptive that can be taken within 3 days of intercourse. It is sold over the counter in our local pharmacies (no ID necessary).

Track your period so you’ll know as soon as possible if you become pregnant. This will increase your options for next steps.

If you do become pregnant, do not wait. Seek care as soon as possible to give yourself the most options available.

Common Myths about BIRTH CONTROL

MYTH: Douching after sex can prevent pregnancy. FACT: Douching after intercourse does not protect against STDs and could spread an infection farther into the reproductive tract. It may also wash away spermicidal protection.

MYTH: A woman can’t become pregnant when she is having her period. FACT: Although it is uncommon, pregnancy can happen when you are having your period.

MYTH: Abortion is illegal. FACT: In NH, abortion up until 24 weeks* of pregnancy is legal and available. The earlier in your pregnancy you seek abortion, the easier it will be, so seek care immediately if you think you might be pregnant.

MYTH: The pullout method (prior to ejaculation) can protect you from pregnancy. FACT: Pre-ejaculate may contain sperm that can result in to pregnancy.

*As of May 2023. Please check for current/changes in law.