In 2015, Indiana started needle exchange programs for drug users as a HIV outbreak happened in southern Indiana from dirty needles.While the idea is noble and has some merit, it is still debatable for government to enter in an agreement with people who have a severe drug habit. An article out of West Lafayette, IN caught my attention as needle data from the exchange is somewhat hard to get. The needle exchange is a verbal agreement with the user to take as many needles as they want without fear of law enforcement involvement. The user in turn must come back with the same amount of “dirty” needles to be disposed of properly. That’s not happening:
Tippecanoe County Health Department is awaiting the return of 2,148 syringes supplied as part of its needle exchange program, according to a report obtained by the Journal & Courier.
As of Sept. 31, the most recent date for which data were available, the needle exchange had served 83 people and had supplied 4,475 syringes, of which 2,327 — or 52 percent — were returned since the program opened its doors in August, according to a quarterly report submitted to the Indiana State Department of Health.
From speaking to law enforcement officials and having dealt with drug users in my career, I can easily assume 30-40% of those missing needles were sold on the black market. It maybe even higher. NPR reported on the black market of needles from government exchange programs back in 2015. Needles users were getting $1 for each needle and then using it to buy their drugs.
Dealing with opioid crisis is a legit cause. The taxpayers are getting hosed with this program as it really doesn’t solve much in battling drug use.