In honor of a fabulous pioneer of this program, the needle and syringe exchange is now called “Megan’s Place”. Every first and third Tuesday from 5-7PM at the SPH Training Center at 203 W. Pioneer Ave., anyone in need can confidentially dispose of used needles & obtain clean needles, access free resources and information including naloxone (overdose) kits, sanitary products, referrals for free HIV and Hepatitis C testing, fresh cookies, and MORE! Safe, confidential, and an incredible FREE community resource ran by a great team of discreet, helpful, trained volunteers.

You can call (907) 841-7204 or email homerexchange@gmail.com for more information.

Check out the Facebook page for All Things Recovery, (formerly called All Things Addiction and the Southern Kenai Peninsula Opioid Task Force) for more great info and to get involved.

Refer to this brochure for additional information on safe options for needle disposal (what should I do if I find a needle?).

South Peninsula Hospital will accept sharps on the second Wednesday of each month from 1 – 3 p.m. During this time only, sharps will be accepted from the public and only at the loading dock entrance, found on the lower level east side below the main entrance.

September is National Recovery month!

Enjoy this informative Q&A from SPH Health & Wellness Educator Annie Garay, RN with Shay Hoffman & Morgan Dwyer from Homer Medical Center.

National Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible. In reverence to the theme this month, I went to Shay Hoffman, HMC Nurse Care Manager and Morgan Dwyer, Mental Health Counselor to find out more about what services they provide through the MAT (Medication for Addiction Treatment) program at Homer Medical Center.

Pictured: Morgan Dwyer on the left and Shay Hoffman on the right.

Q: Take it away, Ladies – what exactly does MAT mean?
MAT stands for Medication for Addiction Treatment. Our MAT program incorporates counseling, medical, and social supports in conjunction with specific medications to support an individual’s recovery.

Q: We know that addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease. Why is addiction treated differently than other diseases?
Disease is a result of a system imbalance. Our remarkable bodies maintain balance and function in so many ways, in so many areas. When it cannot maintain balance in one area over a long time, certain signs and symptoms appear that indicate disease. Addiction actually changes the way the brain works in multiple, significant ways, and these changes further interfere with the body’s ability to regulate. These changes also frequently lead to behaviors that become apparent to others, and impact other relationships, entire families and communities. Mental illness and addiction are often co-occurring; this is one reason that counseling is at the core of treatment for addiction. Because the disease of addiction is often misunderstood, the stigma around it can discourage people from seeking treatment. With more understanding of mental illness and addiction, we are beginning to see more people share their experience with these challenges.

Q: We hear about Narcan a lot more these days. How does it work, and where can folks get it?
Narcan is the brand name for Naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. It comes as a nasal spray that works by attaching to the same receptors as opioids to block and reverse their effect. It takes effect within 2-3 minutes, potentially saving a life, but it is critical to seek urgent medical care any time Narcan is administered. If you think someone may have overdosed on opioids, you will not hurt them by giving them naloxone. There are Narcan kits available at Homer Medical, as well as many local health care facilities. The kits include clear instructions and the medication is simple to use. An overdose can happen with misuse of illicit substances, with the wrong combination of legal or illegal substances, or with intentional or accidental misuse of prescribed pain relievers, so being prepared is important .

You can also pick up a Narcan kit at Megan’s Place, formerly known as the Homer Syringe Exchange. They are open the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 5-7 pm at the SPH training center at bottom of Bartlett Street. You can also come see us at our upcoming 9/21 event at SPARC from 6-7pm. Expect a short training on how to use it, grab a kit for yourself, and enjoy snacks, tea, freebies and community while you’re at it.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
Morgan: I enjoy seeing the growth and change in people as they choose recovery. There is a strength that is in many ways unparalleled in those who can make such a difficult lifestyle change and it is inspiring.

Shay: Knowing how much courage and vulnerability and persistence and strength and pure energy it takes to face our monsters, I feel so honored when someone trusts us enough to ask for help, and can feel a little less alone. If I am lucky, I will keep learning how little I know.

Q. Anything else you’d like to share?
Morgan: MAT coupled with psychosocial interventions yields the best outcomes for those struggling with opioid addiction. Science has produced a wonderful aid in the ending of this epidemic and I am happy to participate in the solution!

Shay: Mental illness includes anxiety and depression. Addiction is not the beginning or end of someone’s story. No disease or physical condition indicates the worth of the person experiencing it.

Thank you ladies, for doing this incredible work and for sharing its importance!

“Let’s trade in all our judging for appreciating. Let’s lay down our righteousness and just be together.”
Ram Dass