Improving access to sterile syringes and safe syringe disposal for injection drug users in methadone maintenance treatment

Jennifer McNeely, Julia H. Arnsten, Marc N. Gourevitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


We evaluated a novel intervention designed to improve access to sterile syringes and safe syringe disposal for injection drug users (IDUs) newly enrolled in methadone maintenance, through interviews with two sequential cohorts of 100 recent entrants into a methadone program in the Bronx, NY. A substantial number of participants had injected in the previous 6 months, and most continued injecting during the early weeks of treatment. The intervention was associated with significant behavior changes among IDUs, including increased use of pharmacies as a primary source of syringes (11% vs. 37%, p < .05) and decreases in both purchasing of syringes on the street (51% vs. 27%, p < .05) and needle sharing (40% vs. 7%, p < .01). The intervention had no impact on the prevalence of injection or on syringe disposal practices. Our findings suggest that drug treatment programs can serve an important role in reducing injection-related risk behavior by facilitating access to sterile syringes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2006



  • Drug treatment
  • Health promotion/disease prevention
  • Substance abuse
  • Syringe exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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