North Carolina Safer Syringe Initiative
Welcome to the North Carolina Safer Syringe Initiative. Here you will be able to find information about existing syringe exchange programs in the state, resources for healthcare providers and law enforcement agencies, testing and treatment programs, details about the limited immunity provided under the syringe exchange law, and information for health departments, community-based organizations, and other agencies interested in starting their own exchanges. Please find an updating list of active programs and contact information below.
North Carolina Safer Syringe Initiative Assistance
As of July 11, 2016, North Carolina (S.L. 2016-88) allows for the legal establishment of hypodermic syringe and needle exchange programs. Any governmental or nongovernmental organization “that promotes scientifically proven ways of mitigating health risks associated with drug use and other high risk behaviors” can start a syringe exchange program (SEP). The Division of Public Health and the Department of Health and Human Services do not operate syringe exchanges in North Carolina.
Included in the law is a provision that protects SEP employees, volunteers, and participants from being charged with possession of syringes or other injection supplies, including those with residual amounts of controlled substances present, if obtained or returned to a SEP. SEP employees, volunteers and participants must provide written verification (including a participant card or other documentation) to be granted limited immunity.
Syringe exchange programs in North Carolina are required to provide the following services:
- Syringe disposal
- Distribution of clean syringes and injection supplies at no cost and in sufficient quantities to prevent sharing or reusing
- Site, personnel and equipment security, including annual written plans to police and/or sheriff’s departments within whose jurisdictions they operate
- Education materials concerning:
- Prevention of disease transmission, overdose and addiction
- Treatment options, including medication-assisted therapy (MAT) and referrals
- Naloxone (Narcan or Evzio) distribution and training, or referrals to these services
- Consultations/referrals to mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) treatment
The law encourages syringe return to ensure that they are disposed in a safe and secure manner, but does not require participants to return used syringes.
Prior to commencing operations, NC SEPs are required to register with the NC Department of Public Health (DPH), by completing and submitting the form Starting a Syringe Exchange Program in NC to SyringeExchangeNC@dhhs.nc.gov. Each SEP is required to submit annual reports to DPH.
Treatment resources can be found through the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. HIV and Hepatitis C testing and treatment resources can be found through the Communicable Disease Branch.
Please contact SyringeExchangeNC@dhhs.nc.gov with any further questions.