An opioid overdose requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know exhibits any of the symptoms.

Syringe Service Programs

Syringe Service programs


Syringe service programs (SSPs) play a crucial role in public health by providing a range of invaluable benefits to both individuals and communities. These programs are designed to be stigma and judgement-free, offering sterile syringes and other injection equipment to people who use drugs. This reduces the risk of transmitting blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C.

SSPs often serve as a gateway to healthcare services, including counseling, addiction treatment, and fostering connections with compassionate healthcare professionals. By promoting safe disposal of used needles, SSPs help prevent environmental hazards and protect others from accidental needlesticks.

Playing a key role in harm reduction, SSPs prioritize the health and safety of people who use drugs, ultimately curbing the spread of infectious diseases and enhancing the overall wellbeing of society.

Syringe Services Program (SSP) FAQs

What is an SSP?

Syringe services programs (SSPs) are also referred to as syringe exchange programs (SEPs) and needle exchange programs (NEPs). Although the services they provide may vary, SSPs are community-based programs that provide access to sterile needles and syringes, facilitate safe disposal of used syringes, and connect people to other important services and programs such as:

• Referral to substance use disorder treatment programs.
• Screening, care, and treatment for viral hepatitis and HIV.
• Education about overdose prevention and safer injection practices.
• Vaccinations, including those for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
• Screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
• Abscess and wound care.
• Naloxone distribution and education.
• Referral to social, mental health, and other medical services.

Are SSPs legal in Minnesota?

Yes. On July 1, 1998, Minnesota passed the Minnesota Syringe Access Initiative, intended to help reduce the spread of diseases.

Do SSPs help people to stop using drugs?

Yes. When people who inject drugs use an SSP, they are more likely to enter treatment for substance use disorder and stop injecting than those who don’t use an SSP. New users of SSPs are five times as likely to enter drug treatment as those who don’t use the programs. People who inject drugs and who have used an SSP regularly are nearly three times as likely to report a reduction in injection frequency as those who have never used an SSP.

Do SSPs reduce infections?

Yes. Nonsterile injections can lead to transmission of HIV, viral hepatitis, bacterial, and fungal infections and other complications. By providing access to sterile syringes and other injection equipment, SSPs help people prevent transmitting bloodborne and other infections when they inject drugs. People who inject drugs can also get other serious, life-threatening, and costly health problems, such as infections of the heart valves (endocarditis), serious skin infections, and deep tissue abscesses. SSPs can help prevent these infections, catch these problems early, and provide easy-to-access treatment to people who may be reluctant to go to a hospital or seek other medical care.

Do SSPs cause more needles in public places?

No. Studies show that SSPs protect the public and first responders by providing safe needle disposal and reducing the presence of needles in the community.

Do SSPs lead to more crime and/or drug use?

No. SSPs do not cause or increase illegal drug use. They do not cause or increase crime.

Are SSPs cost-effective?

Yes. SSPs reduce health care costs by preventing HIV, viral hepatitis, and other infections, including endocarditis, a life-threatening heart valve infection. The estimated lifetime cost of treating one person living with HIV is more than $450,000. Hospitalizations in the U.S. for substance-use-related infections cost over $700 million each year. SSPs reduce these costs and help link people to treatment to stop using drugs.

Do SSPs reduce drug use and drug overdoses?

SSPs play a key role in preventing overdose deaths by training people who inject drugs how to prevent, rapidly recognize, and reverse opioid overdoses. Specifically, many SSPs give clients and community members “overdose rescue kits” and teach them how to identify an overdose, give rescue breathing, and administer naloxone, a medication used to reverse overdose.