Columbia Pacific CCO has a deep commitment to working collaboratively with our community partners to reduce the harms of long-term health conditions resulting from substance use. Substance use disorders tend to be debilitating and make those suffering with it, more adverse to seeking help. Though it’s harder to ask for help, it’s clear most still desire a level of safety and really strive for better health.
As a partner in our members care, we are always looking for the right way to meet them where they’re at in their journey. This concept of care is called harm reduction, as it relates to substance use treatments. Harm reduction programs ensure that people can access and use things like clean syringes – while collecting used ones – which can help to prevent chronic illnesses such as hepatitis C, HIV, and even heart failure. We also give out life-saving medications like naloxone (a medicine that rapidly reduces opioid overdose) resources for inpatient and outpatient treatment, and wound and infection care . Contrary to some beliefs out there, harm reduction programs do not increase drug use. Needle exchange participants have been found five times more likely to enter drug treatment programs according to the National Institutes for Health.
“We often hear concerns that giving out sterile supplies or naloxone just encourages or promotes drug use. The studies show that this simply isn’t the case” says Dr. Melissa Brewster, Columbia Pacific’s Clinical Pharmacist. “These programs save lives by giving out the medication that reverse overdoses, prevent life-threatening infections, and reduce the spread of serious chronic diseases like Hepatitis C.”
Columbia Pacific has recently partnered with Clatsop Public Health who has been providing harm reduction services to the community for three years. Because of the importance of harm reduction services in the community, the CCO’s Board of Director’s approved a request to provide $50,000 in supplies, every year, to keep the program active. Clatsop Public Health reports they have a successful 226 documented overdose reversals, and the number just continues to grow. This funding will also allow this programming to expand into Tillamook and Columbia Counties.
Currently the Clatsop Harm Reduction van can be found in the Providence Seaside parking lot from 11:30-12:30, in the Warrenton Premarq parking lot from 1-2 pm, and behind the Astoria from 2:30-3:30 pm every Thursday.
“We have seen a large increase in overdose deaths in Oregon during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Brewster “so it is more important than ever that we provide these services to the people who need them.”
Questions about harm reduction resources in your community? Contact Melissa Brewster at firstname.lastname@example.org