Laurel Co. needle exchange program puts former addicts in position to help

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LONDON, Ky. (WKYT/WYMT) – In an effort to combat opioid addiction, health officials in Laurel County have opened a new needle exchange program.

WYMT reports that the new program is unique, insofar as the counselors serving the clients are former addicts themselves.

"They've lived this particular lifestyle and it's easier for them to break those barriers with our participants and also gain their trust", says the Executive Director of the Laurel County Health Department, Mark Hensley. "I don't know, they relate to each other."

Clients who come to the clinic receive up to 35 syringes on their first visit, and then trade them in at a one-for-one ratio, when they return.

Hensley says that although needle exchange programs are often the focus of criticism, they also protect the health of the community at-large. They also say that people who utilize needle exchange programs are five times more likely to get help with their addiction.

Laurel County’s needle exchange program is open every Thursday afternoon from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.