A great start to a program that was needed in the Pittsfield area and is helping in so many ways. Already 31 people have enrolled in the local needle exchange program.
The intent is to reduce harm to those using intravenous drugs by providing sterile needles. The program opened on Sept. 4 and enrollment has been growing ever since.
Iberkshires.com reports that so far this month, two more have joined the program bringing the total number to 31. Of those 31, many of them are returning.
"The more we get out there, the more we can connect to our services," Michael Perreault said. "We want to keep increasing. We really want to get out there."
Two individuals feel they are close to being ready to enter a rehabilitation program to treat the drug addiction, Perreault said of those using the syringe exchange.
Healthy Steps does testing for disease and Perreault said he is finding Hepatitis C showing up the most often. The counselors work with those found to have it to reach the medical assistance needed. The program is also looking to prevent overdose deaths. Healthy Steps will soon be distributing the overdose-reversing drug Narcan. That shipment first arrived on Friday. The program is confidential for attendees and the hope is to both keep the community safer but also get those who are using drugs in rehabilitation programs.
 The city and the Board of Health both fully backed the program and on Wednesday voiced praise that it was tackling the issues it had wanted when voting in favor of it.