PSAM Urges Lawmakers to Fully Legalize the Operation of SSPs Statewide
On June 6th, the Pennsylvania Society of Addiction Medicine (PSAM) sent a letter to state lawmakers in support of SB 926. This legislation would legalize the operation of syringe service programs (SSPs) statewide. Under current law, it is still illegal to open a SSP in most parts of Pennsylvania.
In the letter, PSAM summarized the proven public health and harm-reduction benefits that SSPs offer. Specifically, SSPs have been shown to reduce the spread of bloodborne infections, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-- which are major risk factors associated with injection drug use. Additionally, SSPs provide a safe disposal for used needles and syringes, protecting first responders and the community at-large. On an individual level, SSPs distribute educational materials and serve as critical links to treatment for people who use drugs. As an example of this function, PSAM highlighted research indicating that SSPs increase willingness to seek treatment and lower drug use rates among participants. In sum, PSAM hailed SB 926 as an important step forward to protect public safety and enhance Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid epidemic.