Comprehensive Harm Reduction

Comprehensive harm reduction (CHR) is a public health strategy that reduces the harms of substance use for individuals who use drugs and the community as a whole. CHR meets people where they are, but never leaves them there. The CHR program in Mount Rogers Health District provides supportive, judgement-free services to individuals who use drugs, linking them to a variety of services to help reduce the harms of drug use.

Services include:

  • Exchange of used syringes and needles for new syringes and needles
  • Safe disposal of used syringes and needles
  • Overdose prevention education and kits (including naloxone)
  • Testing for hepatitis A, B, and C, tuberculosis, HIV, and STIs
  • Vaccinations (including hepatitis A and B, flu, and COVID-19)
  • Family planning/birth control
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV
  • Referrals to social services, mental health services, medical care, health insurance enrollment assistance
  • ASPIRE program – peer recovery services

The CHR program began in Mount Rogers Health District in late 2018. Three years later, the program has served over three hundred individuals, connecting many people to resources to help them begin or sustain their recovery journey. Tens of thousands of used syringes and needles have been safely discarded.

There are many resources to prevent substance use and treatment/recovery resources for those who are ready to stop using. Harm reduction stands in the middle, as a bridge for those who are currently using but might not yet be ready to enter into recovery. CHR staff offer recovery resources, but also tools to keep people as healthy as possible, and alive, until they are ready to stop using.

CHR services are available at the Smyth County Health Department, Monday-Friday, from 9-12 and 1-4. New participants must arrive by 3:30 to be seen; this allows sufficient time for intake paperwork.

To enroll in CHR services, visit the Smyth County Health Department or contact Tammy Bise, CHR Program Coordinator, tammy.bise@vdh.virginia.gov, 276-781-7450.

For more information about the ASPIRE program or to enroll in services, visit the Smyth County Health Department or contact Chris Alderman, Registered Peer Recovery Specialist, chris.alderman@vdh.virginia.gov, 276-781-7460.

For more information about CHR services in Mount Rogers Health District, contact Breanne Forbes Hubbard, Population Health Manager, breanne.forbes-hubbard@vdh.virginia.gov, 276-759-8297.

For more information about CHR services in Virginia, please visit vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/chr/.