Syringe Service Programs on the Front Lines of the Opioid Overdose During COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic grew larger throughout 2020, syringe service programs (SSPs) faced challenges in keeping workers and participants safe from infection while also continuing to prevent overdose deaths. In this study contributed to by PISC External Advisory Board member Ricky Bluthenthal, PhD, 36 interviews with conducted with representatives from 18 programs. The study found that the pandemic led to innovations like mail-based distribution, adoption of telemedicine for enrollment, and virtual training platforms, despite issues such as being short-staffed and losing funding. The authors concluded by asserting that supportive external context is necessary to sustain these new innovations, which could continue to benefit SSPs even outside of COVID-19.

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