Community Partner at June IEOCC Meeting: Inland Empire Harm Reduction, June 2019

The IEOCC learned more about the individuals leading harm reduction work in the Inland Empire at the IEOCC quarterly meeting on June 11th, when five representatives of the new local non-profit Inland Empire Harm Reduction presented their work and led a discussion.

IEHR is all volunteer public health project working to improve the health and well-being of people affected by drug use in Riverside County, that hopes to be able to expand to serve San Bernardino County as well. Founded in Riverside in 2018 as a grassroots project by former drug users, IEHR participates in community-based harm reduction and connects people to treatment and services. IEHR’s work includes providing free naloxone and training on its use, educating the community on opioids and overdose risk reduction, reducing HIV transmission by providing clean syringes in exchange for used ones, and reducing addiction stigma.

IEHR follows and promotes harm reduction, which include respecting the dignity and self-determination of drug users, using person-centered language, and ‘meeting people where they’re at’. IEHR is available to community members around the clock through various methods of contact, including social media messaging. Their distribution of 2000 doses of naloxone has saved lives in Riverside County through community members’ overdose reversals.

Currently, their work is funded through small donations, but IEHR is interested in grant funding to increase their capacity and level of service to the community. Moving forward, IEHR is working on becoming authorized as a syringe exchange through the state AIDS agency.

For more information on the Inland Empire Harm Reduction and how you can support their ongoing efforts, visit their website here .

Thanks to Noah Geraci, Raphaela O’Meara and colleagues for joining IEOCC on June 11 and leading a great discussion about their work and how we might achieve mutual goals together.

Hunter Gatewood