Needle Exchange Workers Witness Opioid Epidemic Up Close

Originally Published in Ideastream Full Story Link Here

EDDINGS: In Cleveland, there are two men who’ve had a front seat – literally – to Ohio’s surging opioid epidemic. 60 year old Chico Lewis and 44 year old Roger Lowe are the sole outreach workers for Circle Health Service’s syringe exchange program, the first and oldest such program in Ohio. Weekday mornings, on Cleveland’s West Side, and weekday afternoons on the city’s East Side, these two recovering alcoholics sit inside a white van and dispense clean syringes to intravenous drug users. Their one for one syringe exchange helps addicts avoid HIV AIDS and other blood-borne diseases that can be spread through sharing needles

This morning began with a bang on the outside of the van, parked on West 25th Street near MetroHealth Center. The sound interrupts Chico Lewis in the middle of telling me how he got sober 27 years ago.

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