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Indiana Recovery Alliance To City Council: 'We Need Support'

Dozens of Indiana Recovery Alliance supporters attended the Bloomington City Council meeting.

Members of the Indiana Recovery Alliance hope turnout at Wednesday's Bloomington City Council meeting shows city officials how much the community supports their organization.

The council chambers were filled during the public comment period.

"We wanted to demonstrate how much community support there was for harm reduction programs, move to de-stigmatize drug users and the people that love them," says Chris Abert, IRA founder and director. "And show we are making a difference that I don't thing people understand when they hear the word syringe exchange."

"We wanted to demonstrate how much community support there was for harm reduction programs, move to de-stigmatize drug users and the people that love them."

The Indiana Recovery Alliance established its needle exchange in Monroe County a little more than a year ago. Participants can exchange used needles for clean ones, and also access condoms, toiletries and other services for free.

Monroe County health department administrator Penny Caudill says many people don’t realize that the program offers a complement of services in addition to clean needles.

"Its not just about exchanging and making sure somebody a new, clean needle for each injection, but it is also about safe disposal and being able to give people containers and taking in those used syringes so they can dispose of them properly," she says.

Abert says the program has already seen a number successes including giving more than 200 HIV and Hepatitis C tests and distributing more than 4,000 kits of the overdose intervention drug naloxone.

City Council does not typically respond to public comments during meetings and they did not continue the discussion after the IRA supporters spoke.

New Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has expressed support for syringe exchanges, and said part of his legislative agenda is to remove restrictions so that local officials can establish a program without state approval.

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