Throughout November, the Alliance Centre in Sturgeon Falls is encouraging people to dispose of their used needles safely by bringing them to the center.
The centre calls the initiative the Sharps Buyback Campaign, and for every 100 sharps returned by an individual, that person will receive a five-dollar gift card to a local grocery store.
The gift cards were donated by Horizons Women’s Centre, also located in Sturgeon Falls.
Lynn Perreault is the program manager at the Alliance Centre, and she explained that since substance abuse awareness week occurs on the last week of November, their campaign provides a month-long opportunity to help raise awareness.
The campaign has been running for three years now.
The Alliance Centre is a department of the West Nipissing General Hospital that provides “community based mental health and substance abuse services,” Perreault explained.
“We provide services to residents throughout the municipality of West Nipissing,” she added.
The sharps buyback campaign helps people become more aware of the services the Alliance Centre offers—“we have a continuum of care here,” Perreault said, that helps people over time with a variety of health services.
“We offer community-based counselling for individuals who live with substance abuse issues,” she said, adding “we also have a specialized program for their significant others,” which helps family members and those close to individuals with substance abuse problems.
The centre also offers “an addictions medicine program where people can come in and receive medical intervention for their substance abuse issues.”
Residents of West Nipissing who are over 16 are always welcome to stop in for help with substance abuse or mental health concerns. People do not require a referral from a doctor, they can simply stop by to receive support.
Much help is offered by the centre, and the sharps campaign encouraged people who may need support to walk through their doors and discover these programs exist.
The centre also operates a needle exchange program as part of their harm reduction strategy.
Besides raising awareness of their programs, the focus of the campaign is to ensure people dispose of their sharps properly.
In a previous campaign, Perrault mentioned the centre received over 10,000 sharps. “So we get large caches, but they are safely disposed of.”
These used sharps are collected by the hospital, which then disposes of them along with other medical waste.
When the campaign is not running, the centre still receives used needles for disposal, and there is also a sharps bin located in downtown Sturgeon Falls.
“It’s about our community and making sure no one is stumbling upon them when going for a walk,” and ensuring “their children and pets” are safe as well while strolling through public places.
Perreault also emphasized that many diabetics use a lot of sharps, and these too are welcome to be returned at the centre. The goal is to keep them out of landfills and off the streets.
“Bring it in, any kind of sharp,” she encouraged, “so that we can dispose of it effectively and appropriately.”
Keep in mind when dropping off sharps to place them in puncture proof containers. Popular options are large two-liter pop bottles, detergent bottles, or any similarly designed bottle with a large body and small mouth.
Alliance Centre is located at 172 Ethel Street, Unit 4. They are open Monday to Friday 8:30 to 4:30 and on Wednesdays until 7:00 p.m.
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca