Harm Reduction

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: ensuring that those with an active SUD take ownership for reducing risk; identifying that the quality of life –both for the individual and the community- does not necessarily count on completely stopping the use of substances; and that the very real danger of substance misuse is acknowledged.

A large part of 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. Having naloxone -the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug- available can help.  

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.

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

To order kits or materials, contact AskPETRA at 603-259-1729 or #ob#NfxCRGEN#at#APUPAU.bet#ob#.

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 #ob#NfxCRGEN#at#APUPAU.bet#ob#.

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)?

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