DENVER (CBS4)– Dirty needles lying near a popular bike path in Denver may sound like something from the past, but it’s become something that is once again visible as the opioid crisis continues. People walking along the Cherry Creek Trail can see the evidence- dirty syringes tossed on the ground.
The syringes are littered around the trail, exposing those who pass by to illegal substances and the potential to contract an infection.
“People are always going to do what they want to do,” Randall McDavid, Colorado Health Network Medical Director said.
McDavid says he’s seeing more and more patients addicted to meth and heroin. He’s working with the non-profit to keep the opioid epidemic from worsening.
“We know that they’re going to do it, but we provide a safe place for them to exchange their needles to make sure they have needles that have not been used.”
Sara Dasugo manages prevention services at CHN. She estimated, last year the agency alone collected about 100,000 used needles, and they got back about 96% of the syringes they gave out. What happens to the other 4% is unclear, but it’s possible some people who use needles just don’t dispose of them properly.
“I think we’re also seeing from folks that a lot of the times they aren’t feeling super safe to carry their syringe with them so maybe unsafe disposal is happening,” Dasugo said.
As part of Colorado Health Network’s Access Point program, people can come into any of the CHN offices and get clean syringes, and also dispose of used ones. As for those lying on the ground, McDavid warns people to be careful, as they can be a source of bacterial infection, as well as disease.
“Hepatitis A can live on a surface for a while,” McDavid explained.
Members with the network did not think it could gauge if needle use was on the increase, or if there are more dirty syringes litter on the ground.