Grand Forks County Battles Opioid Crisis With New Syringe Program

It's hoping to stop the spread of drug abuse, get rid of dirty sharps and give people the help they need.


GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The county is starting its new syringe collection program, the fifth in the state, in the wake of an opioid epidemic across the nation.

It’s hoping to stop the spread of drug abuse, get rid of dirty sharps and give people the help they need.

“It’s an opportunity for them to talk frankly about their substance use with somebody that can help them take positive steps towards decreasing the substance use but also understand that there is a lot of factors that play into that” Program Coordinator Of Opioid Response Grand Forks Michael Dulitzs said.

The clinic located on the third floor of the Grand Forks Public Health Building; goes through thorough questioning of patients to evaluate potential health risks while providing HIV and Hepatitis C testing.

“So in 2017–2018 we found a 78% increase in new Hepatitis C cases identified in the county, we also found that Hepatitis C was a risk factor for transmission with 88 percent under the age of 35 sighting injection drug use as a risk factor for the infection,” Dulitzs said.

They’re hoping to get those numbers to drop by getting needles off the streets.

“So instead of seeing sharps in the community by somebody who’s afraid of about getting arrested, this provides them that mechanism,”Dulitzs said.

The fledgling program is hoping these services will get those in need on the road to recovery.

“Individuals who are participating in service syringe program are more likely to decrease their substance use and are more likely to enter into treatment we have mechanisms through our programs for people to get connected,” Dulitzs said.

The program doesn’t collect the names of people walking through the door to push the message its primary focus is a helping one.

“We know it’s difficult to find resources when you ready and having somebody else kind of be your ally to help you get connected to treatment,” Dulitzs said.

Categories: Community, Health, Local News, North Dakota News