RTI’s National Survey of Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) showed that California’s investment in harm reduction yielded high levels of life-saving interventions in its three years of existence.
The State of California is approaching the end of a three-year program aimed at preventing overdoses and infectious diseases related to substance use. In the summer of 2023, state legislators will consider whether to extend this effort, known as the California Harm Reduction Initiative (CHRI).
About the California Harm Reduction Initiative
CHRI was a response to steep increases in opioid overdose mortality (Figure 1), and infectious diseases statewide—consequences of the growing presence of fentanyl in the U.S. drug supply. Beginning in August 2020, CHRI dedicated $15.2 million over three years to supporting syringe services programs (SSPs) through direct funding and technical assistance from the National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC).
CHRI’s Impact on Syringe Services Programs
Our research found that CHRI was game-changing for SSPs in California, greatly improving their ability to deliver life-saving interventions to people who use drugs. Our team at RTI consists of experts in public health and harm reduction with experience in California and across the U.S. We have been studying the impact of SSPs with funding from Arnold Ventures and in collaboration with researchers at the University of Miami, University of Southern California, and the North American Syringe Exchange Network. Our findings are relevant to the ongoing discussion in California, and to the experience of other states considering ways to mitigate the health consequences of opioid use.