Benefits of concurrent syringe exchange and substance abuse treatment participation

Michael Kidorf, Van L. King, Jessica Pierce, Ken Kolodner, Robert K. Brooner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Participation in syringe exchange programs (SEPs) is associated with many individual and public health benefits but may have little impact on reducing drug use without concurrent treatment engagement. This study evaluated rates of drug use, other risk behaviors, and illegal activities in newly registered SEP participants (N = 240) enrolled versus not enrolled in substance abuse treatment over a 4-month observation window and examined the effect of days in treatment on these outcomes. After controlling for baseline differences, SEP registrants enrolled in treatment (n = 113) reported less days of opioid and cocaine use, injection drug use, illegal activities, and incarceration than those not enrolled in treatment (n = 127). For those enrolled in treatment, days of treatment was strongly correlated with each of these outcomes. These findings provide good evidence for a dose-response effect of treatment in syringe exchangers and suggest that substance abuse treatment significantly expands the harm reduction benefits of SEP participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-271
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV risk behaviors
  • Harm reduction
  • Injection drug use
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Syringe exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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