Dear community members,
First, we send our condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one recently due to an accidental overdose. These people were friends, family, significant others and our community members. Overdoses are on the rise all over the nation, but it is especially hard hitting in rural areas, like Humboldt County. We want our community to know that we are here for you. These losses are devastating and there are no words to express the pain and frustration that comes from our staff and program participants.
In light of these losses, and a public outpour of concern and desire to help, it is important for the public to know how harm reduction relates to the prevention of losses of lives. Our Syringe Service Program has been the most important way for us to connect people to overdose prevention education and supplies, and much more. Without these services (since December 16th of 2020, when the city of Eureka voted in a resolution to “temporarily suspend” Syringe Exchange Programs within Eureka City Limits), we have witnessed a serious disbanding in our community. For the past four months, our data shows that we have reached only about half the amount of individuals when compared to the previous year between January and March. That is half the amount of Narcan in the community, half the amount of fentanyl test kits, and half the opportunity to connect someone to the support they need. Ultimately, we have been unable to effectively spread harm reduction education, because we need to be able to provide all of our services in order to do so effectively.
We are devistated by the loss of these community members and sorrowed by the reality that overdose deaths are preventable, with access to appropriate services. Covid-19 has revealed the fragility of our existing social structures. We’ve learned that it is all too common for people living in marginalized communities to get left out. More people than ever are being threatened with job and housing insecurity, loss of loved ones, mental health issues and substance use issues due to this pandemic. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the compounding stressors for people who were already experiencing these issues pre-Covid-19. The Overdose Epidemic was already blazing on before this new global crisis and now we are seeing the effects of these overlapping tragedies. In times like these, what our communities need most is more support, not less. We need more services, NOT LESS. Harm reduction saves lives.
If you are hurting or angy about these recent losses, we are with you. And if you or someone you love needs support or education around safe drug use, please reach out to us. The Center is still doing outreach services and deliveries outside of Eureka on Wednesdays and by appointment. Additionally, we are still providing all other services at our building in Eureka during our regular open hours, which are: Mondays: 11AM-1PM, Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10AM-2PM.
Current Services at our brick and mortar location in Eureka Include:
-Fentanyl Test Kits
-Wound Care Kits
-Overdose Prevention Training
-Linkage to Medication-Assisted Treatment
-Stigma-Free Support and Education
The graph below is provided by the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction. It is a depiction of the severe decrease in services between January-March compared between the year 2020 and 2021.
-Jasmine Guerra, Executive Director
The Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction