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Needle Distribution Controversy in Chico

People in Chico say they're concerned about The Needle Distribution Program. Action News Now spoke with a concerned mother as well as volunteers from The Northern Valley Harm Reduction Coalition.

Posted: Jan 26, 2020 8:16 PM
Updated: Jan 26, 2020 8:18 PM

CHICO, Calif.- Many people say they're upset about Chico's Needle Distribution Program.

Action News Now took their concerns straight to the Northern Valley Harm Reduction Coalition.

Roxanne Eldridge, from Chico, says the program doesn't sit well with her. "I want better help for these people, I don’t want them to keep using.It’s advertising for our kids I don’t want this for them, I don’t want it here. I wanted to know exactly what was going on and go straight to the source. I was baffled to see the stuff that they were giving out."

Action News Now confirmed that they give out items such as condoms, cookers, Narcan, Fentanyl testing strips, and volunteers say that people can request even 100 syringes at a time.

Nathan Wills, a volunteer with The Northern Valley Harm Reduction Coalition says, “People are trying not to go into withdrawal, so they will shoot up small amounts of heroine throughout the day, you’re supposed to use a clean syringe every time you poke yourself. So people can go through 20 syringes a day or more. So if people are using 20 syringes a day, that’s only getting them through five days."

Wills added that they understand why people in town are concerned. He says, "One of the purposes of this program is to try to reduce litter. We also have the hotline you can call if you find needles and we can come and pick them up. It’s one of those interesting programs that has a lot of worries attached to it but I genuinely believe that it does more good than harm around the community."

Roxanne Eldridge told Action News Now, "I think that this program caters to the needs of the users and not for the rest of us in the community."

At the distribution site they also give out food and offer referrals for treatment programs.

They also have HIV and Hepatitis testing and they have a list of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meeting times.

Volunteers say people who attend these programs are 5 times more likely to seek help.

Volunteers from the organization told Action News Now they’d be open to having a discussion with some of the concerned people in Chico to answer any questions they may have about the program.

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