Jamin Bradley is a local pastor in Jackson. He’s also one of the founders of a new group called JXN Harm Reduction. It was created almost two years ago to help combat opioid addiction.
“You hear stories within the community of someone else has died from overdose or someone else has had to use Narcan to come out of it and we know there’s a better story to tell than that,” Bradley said.
So they formed the group to help people find relief.
“We want people to find the freedom that we know they want deep down. Nobody wants to live like that,” Bradley said.
JXN Harm Reduction provides safe disposal of any used injection materials as well as referrals for mental health and treatment services. They also provide people with Naloxone, or Narcan, which is commonly used to treat overdoses.
“Addiction is so complicated that like you can’t just stop and we don’t want you to kill yourselves on the way of getting out of it,” Bradley said.
So they give people clean needles.
“You bring in your dirty needles, we give you clean needles and we know that you’re going to use it and we don’t necessarily approve of it, but we are hoping to eventually help you out of it within time,” Bradley said.
Some of the founders of JXN Harm Reduction say that it might seem like the program is a bit backward, but they hope to build relationships with the people in the community to encourage them to get the help they need. They also hope that by providing clean needles, it will help stop the spread of infectious disease.
The City of Jackson is aiding this effort with the introduction of a new ordinance. Police will not be able to prosecute anyone for possession of drug paraphernalia as they are handing out needles and other supplies to the participants of the JXN Harm Reduction program.
It starts with Larua Stephens, the program facilitator.
“They’re going to come in here, talk to me and we have that real conversation about what that looks like and what they want their end result to be and then we start with the needle exchange,” Stephens said.
She says they’ve been working with the city for almost two years to get this program going.
“We see the needles right outside our door, we’re seeing the needing in the community, we see the needles in our building that we’re trying to clean up, and so we can’t just talk about those issues, we have to be willing to make a change in those issues,” Stephens said.
They hope that by starting this conversation, it will help build trust and educate people so that they can make a change.