Controversy swirls over opioid kits given to addicts in Summit County

AKRON, Ohio - Akron Say No to Dope has partnered with the Summit County Health Department for a needle exchange program.

Tugg Massa is with Akron Say No to Dope and said the program is an opportunity for him to reach addicts and push recovery. Massa also said giving users clean needles in exchange for used ones helps reduce the spread of diseases.

“It gives people an alternative to dirty drug use,” said Massa. “If we get one person, that’s all that matters.”

Along with syringes, users are given swabs, tourniquets, cookers, condoms and strips to test for fentanyl.

Others aren't so sure it helps.

"Let’s call it for what it is. This is enablement,” said James Smith. "How does that help them? You don't change behavior by helping it along. It’s prolonged. You're just prolonging the inevitable."

Smith said he doesn’t know what it will take to fix the opioid epidemic but insists the needle exchange program is not it.

"That’s mind-boggling to me,” said Smith.

Summit County Health Department hosts the needle exchange program is every Monday, from 9 a.m. until noon, in Akron.

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