LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A Lansing volunteer group is working to keep intravenous (administered into a vein) drug users safe from preventable diseases and accidental overdoses through access to sanitary equipment and other supplies.

Lansing Syringe Access is a nonprofit organization that offers free access to sterile injection needles and other sanitary devices necessary for intravenous drug use, such as alcohol prep pads and packaged cotton.

Groups like the Lansing Syringe Access practice what is known as harm reduction, which is all about making dangerous activities like intravenous drug use as safe as possible.

Similar centers have cropped up across Michigan and the nation as a whole. Lansing Syringe Access co-founder and employee John Warmb wanted the Lansing community to also have access to such a program.

“It’s based around the principle that people are free to do with their bodies as long as it’s not harming other people. Drug use has a lot of different reasons as to why people go to it,” Warmb said. “The thing that strikes me as crucial about the harm reduction approach is that people will do what they chose to do, and they should be encouraged to do so safely.”

Lansing Syringe Access provides devices used to help curb the threat of overdoses like fentanyl test kits and naloxone, a nasal spray which can be used to save the life of somebody experiencing an opioid overdose.

Also available are educational literature about drug use, glass pipes, condoms, and at-home HIV tests.

“People can come in and get whatever they need. We do not gather personal information. Anybody who needs supplies for safely injecting drugs, that is up to and including sharps containers for disposal and sterile syringes, people are able to access that at no charge,” Warmb said.

Warmb said intravenous drug users that are not using sterile needles are at-risk not only for diseases like HIV, but also severe abscesses and infections.

“Even if you are not sharing; if you are reusing the same sharp and introducing bacteria into your bloodstream, you can end up with really bad abscesses and really bad scabbing from not sterilizing the injection site,” Warmb said.

Warmb said diseases that impact intravenous drug users may ultimately affect the community at-large if left unattended to.

“Everything we can do to keep each other safe is ultimately beneficial. Harm reduction is based on the principle that you’re going to do what you’re going to do, might as well keep you safe while you do it,” Warmb said.

The nonprofit is funded by donations and grants from groups like the Mid-State Health Network, a group that was organized to disperse funds from settlements in the large-scale lawsuits against Purdue Pharma.

Lansing Syringe Access is located in Suite 125 at the office complex on 913 W. Homes Road. Its hours are Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. and Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.