Harm Reduction is an approach that promotes health and wellness in a way that meets people where they are, and incorporates policies, programs, and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.
While many people know strategies to consume alcohol or other legal drugs safely, not many people are familiar with strategies to use other drugs in a way that can prevent harm, including death, disease or the spread of infection.
Strategies for Safer Substance Use
Don't hesitate to call for help.
Good Samaritan Laws encourage people to seek medical attention and provide legal protection for people using or possessing drugs or drinking underage. NJ’s Overdose Prevention Act allows individuals to report drug overdoses without fear of arrest. After calling 911, stay with your friend.
It's possible to overdose no matter how you ingest a substance (orally, intravenously, nasally). Narcan only works on opioids, and you can’t give it to yourself. Opioids stay in your body longer than Narcan, so you can overdose again, as the Narcan wears off.
Use your own sterile equipment.
Disease and infection can spread through sharing straws, pipes, syringes, syringe water and cottons. In NJ, adults can purchase up to ten syringes at pharmacies without a prescription. You must present a valid photo ID or otherwise prove you are over 18.
Even if you think you're fine, it's not worth the risk of harming yourself or someone else. In NJ, someone can be arrested and convicted of driving under the influence even if the car is parked, not running, and the key is not in the ignition.
Start low, and go slow.
Always start with a smaller amount than you think you need. You can always go back and do more, but you can never go back and do less.
Never use or drink alone.
Designate a sober chaperone or stagger your use or with only one person using at a time, or call the Never Use Alone hotline 800-484-3731.
Drink water and eat food.
It's common to become dehydrated and forget to drink water when using drugs or alcohol, which can cause other health issues. Remember to also eat food beforehand.
Don't mix drugs.
Mixing drugs or drinking with using other substances puts you at greater risk of overdose, poisoning or other adverse reactions. This can include non-narcotic prescription medication.
Test for Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that increases risk of overdose and can be present in any substance including heroin, cocaine, crack, meth, ketamine and pills from nonmedical sources.
Contact us at 844-722-5327 for free Fentanyl Test Strips in Sussex County, NJ.
The goal of this program is to reduce overdose fatality, which is made possible with funding through the Community Advisory Board grant of Atlantic Health System/Newton Medical Center.