Syringe services programs

Program basics

  • Community-based programs that provide access to sterile needles, syringes, and other injection equipment free of cost to people who inject drugs
  • Promote safe disposal of used equipment
  • Often provide people who inject drugs with other supporting services (overdose risk education, condoms, naloxone, vaccinations, etc.)
  • SSPs vary by size, scope, geographic location, and setting

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)


Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

Target population


Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Reduced drug use and overdose
  • Improved neighborhood safety
  • Reduced HIV infection
  • Reduced injection risk behavior

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Syringe services programs are a critical component of broader comprehensive harm reduction approaches, which should also offer counseling, counteracting risky behaviors like unprotected sex, referrals to medical professionals, and expanded access to health care.
  • Partnerships with counseling centers and educational resource providers can enable greater access to these services.
  • Syringe service providers should be trained to interact safely and respectfully with patients. Partnerships with law enforcement can aid in this training.
  • Stigma is one of the primary barriers to individuals seeking syringe services. Reducing stigma around utilization of these services can help increase participation.

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