Addiction Services and Prevention

General Overview of ASGCC’s role fighting the Opioid Epidemic:

For close to two decades, the opioid epidemic has consumed Cape Cod and the Islands. As a result, hundreds have died, impacting families across the Cape and Isands. In Massachusetts, opioid overdoses are now the fastest growing cause of death since the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Throughout the crisis, ASGCC has been at the forefront, fighting to save lives.

Harm Reduction:

Harm reduction is an approach that focuses on reducing the potential negative consequences of drug use and supporting individuals in embracing any change in their lives that may better support their health and overall wellness. Supports can include a range of services such as syringe exchanges (meaning access to sterile syringes, as well as a safe place to dispose of used syringes), overdose education, and naloxone distribution.

ASGCC harm reduction staff sees and works with over 1,000 people who inject drugs, many of whom are fighting stigma and discrimination, and some are fighting for their lives. We treat everyone with the dignity inherent within us all. Many people who inject drugs experience stigma and discrimination even at agencies designed to help – and as a result, many feel disconnected from the very services that are there to serve them.

As part of its mission, based in the harm reduction philosophy, ASGCC established two cutting edge public health programs to better serve people who inject drugs: Syringe Services and Overdose Education/Narcan Training (OEND) to give people who inject drugs a chance to empower themselves while they make informed decisions, reduce risk for themselves and others, and in some cases stay alive long enough to get supports and help they seek.  These programs were once considered controversial (and for some, still are), but are now largely respected and valued by law enforcement, first responders and community stakeholders throughout the Cape and Islands.

Syringe Service Programs:
ASGCC provides sterile syringe access, distribution (and retrieval of used syringes).  Public health experts agree that providing sterile needle access is the best way in the midst of a crisis to decrease the risk of new HIV and HEPC (HCV) blood borne illnesses. ASGCC provides access to sterile syringes, safer using supplies, and the agency collects used syringes, properly disposes of them. ASGCC performs what are sometimes called “community sweeps”, meaning retrieving syringes from within the community – in most cases, people call one of our offices and ask us to retrieve syringes from their area.

Our agency’s Syringe Service Programs program is more than distributing and collecting needles. ASGCC’s highly qualified staff uses a set of harm reduction strategies aimed at reducing the negative consequences of substance use, including disease transmission and overdose, while offering referrals to medical care for any who need it, and connection to recovery supports for those who would like to make a change in their use of substances. There is also testing for HIV, HCV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Overdose Education and Narcan Training Services:

ASGCC is one of 24 community-based agencies participating in the Massachusetts Overdose Prevention Initiative, a program created by the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Overdose Education/Narcan Training is free and available to all people actively addicted to opioids, as well as their friends and family members.  ASGCC provides training in a variety of settings, whether it is one-on-one training at its offices, group training at recovery houses or community centers. Throughout Cape Cod and the Islands, ASGCC has trained 2600 citizen responders including service providers, first responders and law enforcement officers.

PrEP and nPEP:
Did you know there was a “pill” to prevent HIV? There is, and it is known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). We are currently updating this section of our website – if you have questions about PrEP, please call us for more information. We have services which remove all barriers to access to PrEP and nPEP.

All of ASGCC’s services are free.