It's no secret: Tiffin has a growing problem with hypodermic needles littering public areas. It seems discarded syringes are found almost daily in our community, often along streets or near schools.
It is time to discuss ways to eliminate or reduce this problem. Yes, efforts to halt heroin use are crucial. But until that battle is won, what can be done?
Sales of syringes could be regulated, much like access to a drug used to make meth is restricted. Since 2006, medicine that contains pseudoephedrine must be kept behind a pharmacy counter. The drugs only are sold in limited quantities to adults after they show identification and sign a logbook.
But that approach would present a dilemma: Restricting access to syringes can increase transmission of HIV and hepatitis among users of needle drugs.
When availability of hypodermic needles is limited, users of heroin and other drugs more often share syringes and repeatedly use the same needle. This increases the likelihood infections such as HIV or hepatitis will spread among users via syringes contaminated with infected blood.
Some communities in Ohio are taking the opposite approach, offering needle-exchange programs to help curb the prevalence of discarded needles and reused syringes.
One drawback is this can send a message that a community condones drug abuse. On other hand, such programs offer an opportunity to direct addicts to programs to treat drug abuse.
Community collection sites, similar to those used to dispose of unused prescription drugs, could be an answer. This, like an exchange program, would require the cooperation of law enforcement; users must believe they can use the locations without fear of arrest or observation.
We'd like to hear your views on this. An online poll is available on our website.
Meanwhile, we pass along these suggestions from a waste collection company on proper disposal of hypodermic needles:
Drop the needles into a rigid plastic container, such as a laundry detergent bottle; do not use something as thin as a water bottle.
Seal the cap with thick tape and write "sharps" on the container.
Drop the sealed container into your regular trash can.
Do not put containers in with recycling.
However, if you find a discarded needle, contact the police department.