Five days a week, our syringe access program provides case by case management in a non-competitive environment that permits individuals to congregate in a safe space with compassionate and non-judgmental staff. Staff members are trained in harm reduction principles and practices, substance abuse treatment, counseling, HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) testing, and risk reduction interventions. HRAC has partnerships and collaborates with agencies to provide health care and HIV/HCV prevention services to a wide range of IDU populations.
By meeting clients “where they are at” in the spectrum of their drug use, key elements to the Harm Reduction Action Center’s successes are met. One of our key principles is to include and engage injection drug users in collective decision-making. Then, by providing comprehensive and flexible services with a wide range of commodities, we create personally meaningful opportunities for Denver injection drug users to self advocate for their needs. Only with becoming a certified County of Denver (and Colorado's largest) syringe access program, we can then engage in strategic advocacy.
The Harm Reduction Action Center provides syringe access for active injection drug users Monday to Friday, from 9:00am - noon. Folks will be required to fill out an intake and garner an anonymous code. Once enrolled, a participant exemption card will be issued that will exempt participants from laws regarding possession of syringes in the City and County of Denver. This assists protecting the larger community so participants can dispose safely. Access to clean syringes (and syringe disposal) prevents and eliminates the transmission for HIV and hepatitis C in the Denver Community.
The Problem: In 2009, Colorado was one of only two states in which prescription drug overdose ranked as the leading cause of accidental death (over motor vehicle accident.) In 2010, prescription drug overdose was the leading cause of accidental death in 15 states, including Colorado (Denver Office of Drug Strategy 2011.)
A Solution: Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. It can be administered intramuscularly or intranasally. It has proven both safe and effective when used by both emergency medical personnel and by trained lay people.
Naloxone has been distributed to drug users by community-based agencies since 1996. As of 2012, 188 opioid overdose prevention programs distribute Naloxone across 15 states and the District of Columbia. From 1996 to 2010 an estimated 53,032 persons have been trained and distributed Naloxone. These programs have reported 10,171 overdose reversals using Naloxone (CDC 2012).
HRAC has partnered with Dr. Jane Kennedy, to offer a 1-hour overdose prevention & response training which educates users on how to: prevent an overdose, recognize the signs of an overdose, perform recue breathing, and administer IM Naloxone. Classes are available twice monthly. Call 303-572-7800 for our next class.
Each participant leaves the training with two vials of Naloxone and two IM syringes, prescribed in their name and legal to carry.
HIV and HCV prevention is the cornerstone of our sevice. Besides our innovative Break the Cycle Intervention, we offer weekly classes of Vein Care and HIV/HCV 101.
Vein Care is a group-level educational intervention to educate users on injection-related health conditions including HIV and HCV as well as bacterial infections such as abscess, cellulitis, and endocarditis; this class alos provides an opportunity for users to learn how to incorporate more hygienic and lower-risk practices into their injection techniques.
HIV and HCV 101 is a group-level educational intervention to educate users about the similiarities and differences between HIV and HCV, risk factors for transmission, and IDU risk-reduction behaviors.
The HRAC staff, participants, and volunteers do weekly street outreach in downtown Denver. In 2012, we connected with 1,100 homeless and injection drug users on the streets of Denver to provide safer shooting supplies, referrals, socks, and snacks. In typical harm reduction style, we meet drug users 'where they are at' in their drug use and literally on the streets. Call 303-572-7800 for our next Street Outreach training. There is nothing more soul nourishing than an afternoon of street outreach.
This program provides letters, referrals, health information, and support to HRAC's clients that are currently incarcerated. This program creates a huge impact on HRAC participants who are in jail or prison by keeping them engaged in health and human services and by providing social support. Participants appreciate the simple act of receiving a kind letter and tell us that sometimes hearing the words "you've got mail" can be the difference between a bad day and a tolerable day in jail.
One participant recently wrote back, "Take care guys, and don't let anyone or anything say that the HRAC isn't a good place. You guys are awesome, caring people and are needed--even if it means helping addicts!"
The innovative Break The Cycle program which is new to the United States, facilitates the reduction of HIV and HCV prevalence by reducing new initiations into injection drug use. BTC imparts skills to refuse initiation requests, and to train current IDUs to be aware of the effects they may have on non-injecting drug users (NIDUs) by: a) directly injecting in front of NIDUs and b) discussing injection behaviors in the presence of NIDUs. Contrary to belief, it is the NIDUs request to be initiated; the majority of IDUs express regret to have initiated someone into “the hell of the injecting lifestyle”.
For more information about the intervention or to read Denver’s BTC initial demographic data results, please contact Ruth directly.
Each week, a licensed therapist provides HRAC clients with a unique opportunity to both think and talk about the unresolved trauma experienced in the past or present, and the challenges faced in getting their needs met outside of drug use. Stress reduction, substance use reduction, and appropriate requests for support are encouraged in a constructive, compassionate, and non-judgmental language.
For more than four years, certified acupuncturists have dedicated both their time and energy to provide alternative medicine options for HRAC clients. Clients look forward to weekly detox treatments to find value in trying a different method to improve health outside of biomedical health care services. The dedication of these volunteers impacts IDU clients beyond health improvement; it reinforces their value as human beings worthy of additional efforts to receive health care services - far from the assumption that IDU are not worth the investment because of their challenges to maintain personal health.
The Harm Reduction Action Center’s “Walk-In” services are always available to Injection Drug Users and partners in need of immediate services including crisis prevention support, immediate emergency health care services navigation, and risk reduction counseling. We also provide direct referrals for shelters, prison re-entry employment, substance abuse treatment/methadone, local food/clothing banks, and health care enrollment application assistance.
HRAC’s access to services program is multi-faceted. HRAC works to address the psychological isolation and lack of support felt by many individuals actively injecting or affected by injecting as a partner or family member. Staff from HRAC talk with individuals, access their needs, provide referrals, and offer our programs and services during outreach with partnering agencies or one-on-one in-house sessions.
The Harm Reduction Action Center provides free Hepatitis C, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV testing on demand. Please call 303.572.7800 for either HIV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia or HCV testing and scheduling information.