‘Harm Reduction’ Clinic Offers Overdose Antidote, Clean Needles, and Hope | Carbondale

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If you walk into the faded blue building of the Center for Empowerment and Justice on a Thursday evening, you will be greeted by volunteers offering clean syringes, naloxone, a life-saving overdose antidote, emergency contraception, tampons and more.

The Center for Empowerment and Justice on North Washington Street is dedicated to putting the principles of mutual aid into practice in the service of the community of Carbondale.

The harm reduction clinic is the latest step they’ve taken to do this.

Cassandra Coffey, a volunteer at the center, helps run the clinic on Thursdays, which runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“My most recent friend (who) died of an opioid overdose was given medication containing fentanyl. And that was several years ago before Narcan really became a big deal. And if we had had Narcan back then, she would still be alive, ”Coffey said.

Fentanyl, which is significantly more potent than heroin, is largely responsible for the increase in fatal overdoses in the United States in recent years.

Coffey said part of the goal is to destigmatize drug use.

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“Because the stigma attached to drug use, especially with some of the harder drugs like methamphetamine, heroin and stuff like that, puts people in a position where they are ashamed to admit that they use. drugs in a public setting, and they’re less likely to seek help. said Coffey. “So providing an environment where a person who is actively using drugs can come in and get things to prevent harm, and maybe even reach out to how they could get rid of those drugs in an environment where they is not judged, and they are not called is invaluable to the community.

Overall, the clinic hopes to reduce overdose deaths and HIV transmission rates in the region. They provide a means of accessing PrEP, a medicine available to HIV-negative people to take daily to reduce their risk of exposure. They also distribute fentanyl test strips, free condoms, and safe sex kits to everyone who enters.

Nathan Colombo, a member of the centre’s emergency board, said the clinic hopes to partner with anyone in the future to expand its services.

Colombo said one of the main goals of the clinic is to provide Narcan training to the community.

He said it was also a matter of providing a safe zone to provide healthcare equipment that is otherwise considered “taboo”.

“We don’t do a good job in our company to talk about everything that is provided there, whether it is tampons, condoms, needles, Narcan or, you know, other medical supplies, than anything that is committed to these things, that’s right, we do a we do a bad job of discussing in society, ”Colombo said.

According to SIH, opioid / heroin overdoses are now the leading cause of death among people under 50.

For example, the overdose death rate jumped 509% in Jackson County from 2010 to 2015, coupled with countless emergency department visits and hospital stays, SIH said in a press release. independent.

As of March 2021, there had been 3,508 overdose deaths in Illinois over the past year, according to the CDC.

Even though the center typically operates between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Coffey said anyone in need of supplies can stop and get them anytime during business hours Monday through Friday.

After the founder’s death, the Center for Empowerment and Justice fights to stay open


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