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Lafayette syringe exchange adds straws to program

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Clean straws have been available to participants in the Tippecanoe County health department's Gateway to Hope participants since the spring of this year.

"But, we just now really started pushing them because we are seeing more increase in our area," said Nursing Supervisor Khala Hochstedler about the syringe exchange program. 

More people are starting to snort instead of use needles.

"A lot of them are terrified of shooting up heroin because there has been so many overdose deaths that they have started snorting their heroin," Hochstedler said. "There was a myth going around town that if you snorted your heroin that you couldn't OD on it." 

However, that isn't the case. You can overdose on drugs no matter how you use them. Another local trend is switching from heroin to meth.

"They are really proud of themselves for not using heroin," Hochstedler said. "But then meth is just one more drug that we need to work together in finding resources for treatment."

If you start using meth, medication assisted therapy like methadone won't work for you.

"It's kind of sad too because the methadone clinic just opened," Hochstedler said. 

Lafayette police agreed that the use of meth is definitely increasing in the city. Cocaine is on its way back, too.

"Drugs are always changing. It's a money game" said Lafayette Police Lt. Tim Payne. "And so when the federal government has gone around and made lots of programs to help fight the opioid epidemic, it's our theory that the people pushing out the drugs know this." 

The health department said it would like to stop drug use altogether but its realistic goal is to decrease the spread of disease. Clean straws could help.

"Through your nose, you have blood vessels," Hochstedler said. "So, if you're passing the straw and you take a hit and your friend takes a hit and you're using the same straw, you can still spread bloodborne pathogen that way."

This trend isn't specific to Tippecanoe County, it's happening across Indiana. 


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