The Piedmont Chapter organizes drug users in Greensboro, High Point, Winston Salem, and surronding areas. Like all of the chapters we have 4 main areas that we focus our attention.
Advocacy Wins: 2016 Legal Syringe Exchange (NC), Strengthening of Good Samaritan Act (NC)-2015, Police officer Safety Act/ Syringe Decriminalization (NC)- 2014, Naloxone Access- 2014 (NC).
Awareness Days and Legislative Days: In 2016 our NC chapters participated in a number of awareness events including: International Overdose Awareness Day, End Violence against Sex Workers, International Harm Reduction Day, World Aids and HCV day.
Civic Engagement: “Felons Can Vote, is our civic engagement program designed to educate felons and mobilize drug users. NO one should not vote. If it is important enough for the courts to take away, we need to examine this! Last year we registered over 300 people to vote! (We must register people to vote and help people realize how important their voice is for making lasting change in the world.)
Overdose Prevention: “Selena Lives” (an overdose prevention and naloxone distribution initiative)“Selena Lives” was developed by USU after the tragic death of our Executive Director’s daughter Selena, who died in a drug treatment center that did not have naloxone available. Our program goals are to integrate overdose prevention and naloxone distribution programs into every treatment and correctional facility. Ensure that every person who uses illicit substances/prescription opioids illegally has access to overdose prevention information and naloxone. To advocate for a policy which requires all treatment centers and correctional facilities have naloxone and overdose prevention programs.
In 2016 Piedmont USU Chapter passed out 1585 naloxone kits and we had
Direct Services: USU runs direct service programs in areas where programs are illegal or newly legal. USU NC ran the underground exchange prior to legalization and is still operating the program until we feel it is no longer necessary. Last year we exchanged over 405,000 syringes and provided services to over 320 unique individuals. At this time we have a 23% return rate.
Our participants are 72% white, 20% Black, 4% multi-racial , 2% Latinix, and 2% other. We have seen a large increase in young men joining the Greensboro Xchange. At this time we have 59% men, 39% women, 1.2% Trans, .8% non-binary/GNC. We are beginning 2 new exchange programs in 18-19, our Women Survivors Union exchange group will create a day, or block of time carved out specifically for women, transwomen and nonbinary members to access our services. Our LGBTQI community is growing as well. We currently have a small group planning a similar program specifically for membership that identify as LGBTQI. A large portion of our participants struggle with some form of disability either mental, physical or both. Our executive director is an amputee who struggles with severe mental illness. Our desire to meet the needs of this population is extremely important to USU leadership. The most important feature of USU’s Greensboro Xchange is our implementation of the DIHE (directly impacted health educator program). We believe in paying people who use drugs for their services and we make sure that our educators are properly trained and are able to truly meet the needs of drug users who are in need of support. Our DIHE program is based on Catherine Swanson’s Points of Distribution Training. This training ensures that drug users are truly becoming part of the workforce in that their skills match those of other health educators in the community. We also have less intensive opportunities to earn money at the exchange for people who are not able to commit as much time and effort. We are a user union that operates a peer runs syringe exchange, this means our work is based on the premise that drug users when educated and properly trained are the best equipped to provide non judgmental services for people who use drugs.
We have 2 groups that meet weekly a group on Fridays from 1-2 Any Positive Change, and a women’s group from 6-7 on Tuesday night.