Tippecanoe Co. commissioners approve needle exchange program

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Tippecanoe County Commissioners approved a needle exchange program.

Tippecanoe County is in the Top 10 percent of Indiana counties for substance abuse severity. The proposed needle exchange program is one effort to change that statistic.

For the past year, Dr. Jeremy Adler said the Tippecanoe County Health Department has been working to establish the exchange program. He said by providing free and clean syringes along with other programs and services to treat addiction, the problem will be reduced.

The exchange program will be funded by private grants and not taxpayer dollars. Adler said this will address the increase of hepatitis C caused by needle sharing.

“And if we can do something to prevent individuals from getting hepatitis C, then this is a very worth while thing,” Dr. Adler said. “The most common way that people get hepatitis C is through sharing needles and other drug equipment so it makes sense to target our efforts at that, at that behavior.”

Adler said the next step is to get approval from the Indiana Department of Health and state commissioners before starting the syringe exchange program in Tippecanoe County.

“The ultimate solution for this problem is to treat drug addiction and reduce the number of individuals who are injecting drugs,” Dr. Adler said. “Because addiction is a chronic illness, it takes a long time to treat.”

The needle exchange program was approved by Tippecanoe County commissioners 2-1. Commissioner Tom Murtaugh voted against it, saying he still had concerns about the program and needed more information.

Details surrounding the program, such as location, are still being discussed by the health department.