Needle exchange programs chase political as well as epidemiological dragons, carrying within them both implicit moral and political goals. In the exchange model of syringe distribution, injection drug users (IDUs) must provide used needles in order to receive new needles. Distribution and retrieval are co-existent in the exchange model. Likewise, limitations on how many needles can be received at a time compel addicts to have multiple points of contact with professionals where the virtues of treatment and detox are impressed upon them. The centre of gravity for syringe distribution programs needs to shift from needle exchange to needle distribution, which provides unlimited access to syringes. This paper provides a case study of the Washington Needle Depot, a program operating under the syringe distribution model, showing that the distribution and retrieval of syringes can be separated with effective results. Further, the experience of IDUs is utilized, through paid employment, to provide a vulnerable population of people with clean syringes to prevent HIV and HCV.
Small, D., Glickman, A., Rigter, G., & Walter, T. (2010). The Washington Needle Depot: Fitting healthcare to injection drug users rather than injection drug users to healthcare: Moving from a syringe exchange to syringe distribution model. Harm Reduction Journal, 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7517-7-1