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Safer; Reducing Harm and Needle Safety in Buncombe County

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What is Harm Reduction?

Harm reduction is a set of evidenced-based public health practices that help prevent overdose and infectious disease transmission, improve physical and mental health and social wellbeing by engaging directly with people who use drugs. Harm reduction services offer a low-barrier option for people to access substance use treatment and other health care services. Harm reduction begins with a relationship-centered approach-meeting people where they are and recognizing everyone’s need for safety and care.

Harm reduction emphasizes the principles of non-judgment, non-coercion, safety, and empowerment in providing services to people who use drugs. These services are often the first place an individual feels empowered to take steps towards wellness, after months or years of disconnection from medical services.

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Syringe Services & Naloxone

Syringe services and exchange programs offer opportunities for healthier outcomes by providing sterile injection equipment; linkages to testing, care, and recovery options; and Naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug that can save the life of a person experiencing an opioid overdose.

There were 141 overdose deaths reported in Buncombe County in 2022. Please reach out to our community organizations for Naloxone if you or a loved one — or anyone you know! — could be at risk of overdose.

Safety First: Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is spread when blood of an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. This can occur through sharing needles or "works" when injecting drugs, or through an occupational needle-stick exposure.

Using a new needle each time reduces the risk of infection from diseases such as Hepatitis C, HIV, and endocarditis—and increases entry into treatment 5-fold.

These supportive services lower rates of communicable diseases, decrease overdose deaths, and increase social connectedness by reducing stigma and providing a safe place to begin a conversation.

WNCAP Harm Reduction

Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP) offers safer injection supplies, Overdose Reversals Kits, Testing, linkages to care, and Community Navigation through their Harm Reduction Program Get in touch at or call (828) 252-7489.

Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Western North Carolina AIDS Project
554 Fairview Road
East Asheville

Health Department

The Buncombe County Health Department offers syringe exchange; Naloxone and Overdose Reversal Kits and education; harm reduction supplies; linkage to community resources and medical care; testing and treatment for STI; testing and referrals for Hepatitis A, B and C and HIV; vaccinations, including Hepatitis A and B; and family planning services for all people.

Buncombe County Syringe Exchange
Monday-Friday 12pm-4pm
40 Coxe Avenue
Downtown Asheville
Buncombe County Health Services
Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
40 Coxe Avenue
Downtown Asheville

Holler Harm Reduction

Holler Harm Reduction provides syringe exchange, overdose reversal kits and education, and harm reduction supplies delivery in Madison County and rural North Buncombe County (Leicester, Alexander, Weaverville, Barnardsville). Holler also offers post overdose follow up support, wound care services and linkage to care. Call or text 828-290-9066 to set up a delivery Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm or visit for more information.

Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm
Call or text: 828-290-9066
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Needle Safety & Disposal

Needlestick Prevention has some great information on needle safety. Safely disposing of home-generated used sharps is important. Sharps that are not disposed of safely may cause injury.

Quick Tips:

  • Do not pick up a needle from the ground unless absolutely necessary; such as a child nearby or job duties.
  • Do not stick your hands where you can't see; like under couch cushions, under mattresses, etc.
  • Do not attempt to recap a needle you did not use.
  • If you must pick up a syringe, use puncture resistant gloves and shoes, and tongs to grab the needle from the middle.
  • Dispose of the needle in thick plastic, such as a laundry detergent bottle, and tightly secure the top.
  • Bring the entire container to a local disposal location to dispose of the needle(s) properly. In Buncombe County you can bring needles to:

Needlestick Intervention

If accidentally stuck:

  1. Flush and wash the area with soap and water.
  2. Go to your doctor or the nearest emergency room immediately for Hepatitis B & C, and HIV testing.
  3. If you are not yet vaccinated, ask for Hepatitis B vaccination.
  4. Begin any preventive medications prescribed.
  5. Follow up per doctor's orders for further testing.

You can also call the Buncombe County Disease Control Program at (828) 250-5109 to schedule a testing appointment. The Buncombe Community C.A.R.E. Team has created a guide for needle safety and disposal in Buncombe County.

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Get Help Now

Treatment Information, News Articles, and Resources.

Treatment, Recovery, & Support

Treatment and recovery are possible and closer than you think. Our community has multiple partnering agencies that are well-equipped and experienced at providing resources that you or your loved one can access to take that critical first step towards better health and/ or recovery.

Science has proven that substance use disorder is a chronic brain disease that can be managed with medical treatment. We must reduce the negative public perception of addiction to remove barriers to getting help. Because right now, only 1 in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder receive treatment.

Medical Emergency: Call 911

National Suicide Prevention and Crisis Lifeline: Call 988

  • Call AMCHC at (828) 257-4745 for primary care, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), Hepatitis C and HIV treatment.
  • Call MAHEC at (828) 257-4730 for primary care, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), MAT for pregnant or postpartum people, Hepatitis C and HIV Treatment.
  • Call MAHEC at 828-771-3488 if you are in need of Hepatitis C and/or HIV treatment
  • Call VAYA Health at 1-800-849-6127 for referrals for outpatient substance use individual or group counseling.
  • Peer Support Services:
    Research shows that Peer Support Services work! Call VAYA at 1-800-962-9003 to be connected to Peer Support Programs in Buncombe County.
  • Dial 252-HELP for connections to support resources in Buncombe County and across Western North Carolina. If you are a first responder or medical provider, this card could come in handy during experiences with someone who has overdosed
  • Seek Healing Listening Line, The Listening Line provides non-crisis emotional support between community members. Call or text any time to connect with another Seeker. Call or text: 828-547-4547; hours 8am-11pm.
  • Safer is better! The State of North Carolina has created this helpful health resource guide for our region. If you are in Buncombe County, be sure to look up Region 2 resources!
  • More information is available from the NC Opioid Prevention and Awareness initiative