Outreach Testing & HIV/HCV Prevention Maximize
Safe Sharps Disposal Maximize
Harm Reduction Minimize

The Harm Reduction program in Monroe County provides a number of services aimed specifically at helping reduce disease transmission and other harms in the community related to substance use such as: 

  • HIV rapid antibody testing
  • HCV rapid antibody testing
  • Harm reduction supplies
  • Insurance Navigation
  • Overdose Reversal Training
  • Naloxone distribution
  • Referrals to healthcare and social service providers
  • Syringe Service Program (contracted with Indiana Recovery Alliance)
  • Information and materials about safe sharps cleanup/disposal

At its core, harm reduction is any act that reduces the harm (or potential harm) of engaging in an activity. You practice harm reduction when you put on a seatbelt, wash your hands, or put your leftovers in the refrigerator. 

 “Harm Reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence to meet drug users ‘where they’re at,’ addressing conditions of use along with the use itself.”

- The Harm Reduction Coalition

Syringe Service Program Minimize

The Monroe County Health Department contracts with the Indiana Recovery Alliance (IRA) to operate the Monroe County Syringe Service program in Monroe County. 

In 2015 the Monroe County Health Officer sent a declaration of a local public health emergency to the Commissioners as a part of the process to request a Syringe Service Program (SSP). 

 What is a Syringe Service Program (SSP)?

A community based public health program that provides comprehensive harm reduction services such as: 

  • Sterile needles, syringes, and other injection equipment
  • Safe disposal containers for needles and syringes
  • HIV and hepatitis testing and linkage to treatment
  • Education about overdose prevention and safer injection practices
  • Referral to substance use disorder treatment, including medication assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Referral to medical, mental health, and social services
  • Tools to prevent HIV, STDs and viral hepatitis including counseling, condoms and vaccinations

How do SSPs benefit communities and public safety?

  • Reduce overdose deaths 
  • Reduce new HIV and viral hepatitis infections
  • Increase entry into substance use disorder treatment 
  • Reduce needlestick injuries
  • They do not increase local crime in the areas where they are located




Please visit our current Syringe Service Program page here.

Naloxone & Overdose Prevention Minimize

Could you or someone you know be at risk of overdosing from an opiate? Aaron's Law (Senate Enrolled Act 406-2015) allows the general public to administer naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, to an individual at risk of opioid related overdose. The State Health Commissioner issued a standing order for registered individuals or agencies to distribute naloxone to anyone who would like to carry it.

Many pharmacies are registered to distribute naloxone in Monroe County. To find a registered entity near you, visit optin.in.gov. 

With a grant from Indiana State Department of Health, the Monroe County Health Department can provide the nasal spray for free, along with a brief training on how to use it. For more information call 812-349-2722

Indiana Recovery Alliance also provides free injectable (intramuscular) naloxone during outreach hours and by appointment.


Nasal Naloxone

Intramuscular Naloxone 


Harm Reduction - Hours Minimize
Outreach with Indiana Recovery Alliance
Monday 12-2 pm @ Shalom
Wednesday 12-1 pm @ Crawford II
Friday 12-2 pm @ Shalom
Check IRA office hours for the Syringe Service Program here


Harm Reduction Contact Info Minimize

Melanie Vehslage, MPH, CHES

Health Educator, Harm Reduction

Phone: 812.349.7343



Kathy Hewett

Lead Health Educator/Accreditation Coordinator

Phone: 812.349.2722


Treatment Connections Minimize

Lookup Indiana is a resource to provide information about mental and behavioral health resourses in Indiana. They can be accessed online or by phone at 1-800-284-8439. 

Next Level Recovery is a resource specifically dedicated to finding addiction treatment resources in Indiana using an online tool. You can also call their Indiana Mental Health and Addiction Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).

Making sure that you have insurance is a great first step in getting into treatment. Harm Reduction staff are trained in insurance navigation. If you need assistance with obtaining or keeping insurance, visit us during Harm Reduction outreach hours or contact us to set up an appointment. 



Stigma Minimize

The CDC shares that 'often, illicit drug use is viewed as a criminal activity rather than a medical issue that requires counseling and rehabilitation. Fear of arrest, stigma, feelings of guilt, and low self-esteem may prevent people who use illicit drugs from seeking treatment services, which places them at greater risk for HIV' and other health issues.

To learn more about the role of stigma as it relates to HIV, HCV, and drug use, please see the following resources:

IU School of Public Health: Public Health & YOU - Professional Development Certificate in Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention hosts a module to specifically discuss stigma. This course is free and accessible for both IU students and non-IU students. 

The Harm Reduction Coalition has created a training specifically aimed at addressing drug user related stigma. The materials at this site are able to be accessed, downloaded and printed for free. 

“Stigma exists when the following interrelated components converge. In the first component, people distinguish and label human differences. In the second, dominant cultural beliefs link labeled persons to undesirable characteristics – to negative stereotypes. In the third, labeled persons are placed in distinct categories so as to accomplish some degree of separation of ‘us’ from ‘them.’ In the fourth, labeled persons experience status loss and discrimination that lead to unequal outcomes. Stigmatization is entirely contingent on access to social, economic and political power that allows the identification of differentness, the construction of stereotypes, the separation of labeled persons into distinct categories and the full execution of disapproval, rejection, exclusion and discrimination”

- Link BG, Phelan JC. Conceptualizing stigma. Annual Review of Sociology. 2001;27:363-385.


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