Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Examples include distribution of Naloxone (Narcan) and needle distribution/recovery programs that distribute sterile needles and other harm reduction supplies.

On June of 2016, the State Health Director of North Carolina authorized North Carolina pharmacists to dispense naloxone to people who meet the criteria of the standing order. Learn more at NaloxoneSaves.Org.

An opioid overdose can be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 immediately if an overdose is suspected.

Signs of an Opioid Overdose

SAVE ME Steps – Take Steps to Save a Life video>>

Symptoms to look for, referred to as the “opioid overdose triad”:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Unconsciousness/non-responsiveness

Additional symptoms to look for include:

  • Limp body
  • Pale face
  • Clammy skin
  • Purple or blue color to lips and fingernails
  • Vomiting

If any of these symptoms present in an opioid user, seek emergency medical help immediately.

What is Naloxone (Narcan)?

Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is a medication that can be administered either through injection or as a nasal spray to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It works by helping the muscles of the lungs open back up, allowing the individual to breath. Read more about how Naloxone (Narcan) works »

There are 4 types of Naloxone. Injection (intramuscular), Nasal Spray (intranasal), Auto-injector (EVZIO), Narcan Nasal Spray

Where can I get Naloxone (Narcan)?

Naloxone Standing Order

While Naloxone, or Narcan, is a prescribed drug, the state of North Carolina passed a standing order in 2015 which allows government and non-government organizations to prescribe Naloxone to individuals they believe to be at risk. The standing order also protects organizations and individuals administering Naloxone against any legal action. Any individual is able to administer Naloxone if they meet the requirements of the law and have completed a short training on administration and signs of overdose.

How to properly dispose of needles:

Always use an FDA-cleared sharps container when available. Free sharps containers may be available from your doctor, health insurance provider, or medication supplier.

Dispose of sharps containers at:


If you cannot get an FDA-cleared sharps container, follow these guidelines:

  • Use an empty household container with these features:
    • Tight-fitting lid that cannot be punctured
    • Stays upright
    • Made of heavy-duty plastic that will not puncture easily
    • Does not leak
  • Dispose of household sharps container when it is 2/3 full:
    • Close lid, tape shut, and label “sharps biohazard”
    • Take sharps container to sharps disposal program
    • If you cannot find a sharps disposal program, put the container in the center of a full trash bag and discard in regular trash. Do not put sharps containers in recycling.
  • How To Safely Dispose Of Needles

In July 2016, Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill legalizing syringe exchanges in North Carolina. While needle exchanges are legal, they do not receive any taxpayer funding.

North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) Needle Exchange – Wilmington

  • Offers fixed, mobile, and peer-based needle exchanges in New Hanover County.
  • Mobile and peer exchange are also available in Brunswick County through the NCHRC Wilmington exchange. Please contact Margaret Bordeaux for more information – call or text (910) 354-0035 or email mbeaddy3384@gmail.com.
Health: 2029 S. 17th Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-6500 • Fax 910-341-4146 • Medical Records Fax 910-772-7805
Environmental Health: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-6667 • Fax 910-798-7815