Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Needle exchange programs-Psychological aspects, Stigma (Social psychology), Intravenous drug abusers-Psychology, Homeless persons-Psychology, Mentally ill-Mental health, Well-being, Harm reduction, Syringe exchange, Addiction, Drug use, Injection drug use, Emotional well-being, Homeless, Chronically mental ill


This qualitative, exploratory study examines how accessing Syringe Access Services (SAS) directly impacts program participants' emotional well-being. The purpose of this research is to give voice to individuals who utilize SAS services; to gain personal and valuable information about the nature of the participant; and to reveal the emotional and mental health outcomes linked with SEP's. Twelve individuals who have been program participants of SAS for over a year were interviewed for this study. Participants were interviewed indoors at one of the SAS's fixed needle exchange sites in the Bay Area. In-person semi-structured interview questions elicited participants' experience with various services in their community and their experience with SAS. Qualitative analysis was used to analyze the data, uncovering naturally emerging themes and patterns. Participants described experiences with community services and direct services providers as both positive and negative. Positive experiences included services that included harm reduction, free from stigma, and non-judgmental, with service providers who were authentic and trustworthy who were able to assist clients with their current needs. Negative experiences included services that had requirements attached to receiving care, long waits, and services providers who were judgmental and dishonest. Participants describe the important role the SAS services play in reducing stigma and providing services that catered directly to their needs. The findings attest to the benefits of having a safe, nonjudgmental, and reliable space that provides clean injection equipment as well as a space to create authentic meaningful relationships with service providers. This finding is exceptionally important given that majority of those interviewed are chronically homeless, mentally ill, and with very little connection to various services. SAS played a critical role in improving participants' self-worth thus impacting their emotional wellbeing.




iii, 66 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 55-59)