Expanded Syringe Access Program Safety Insert

Download a printable version of the Safety Insert (PDF, 583KB, 2pg.)

Pharmacies registered in New York State's Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP) may now sell or furnish up to 10 syringes at a time to adults, 18 years or older, without a prescription. Under this program, health care facilities and health care providers (doctors and others who can prescribe syringes) may also furnish syringes.

Reducing Your Risk

This program benefits individuals who self-inject medications and/or other drugs. If you inject drugs, you may be at risk of overdose or being infected with HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and other serious infections. Injecting drugs can lead to sores (abscesses and cellulitis) and heart infections (endocarditis). If you do inject, there are ways you can reduce your risk for disease, and can help protect others.

  • Always use a new sterile syringe and needle every time you inject.
  • Never share your needles, syringes, cookers, cotton and water.
  • Clean injection site with soapy water, alcohol swabs, or rubbing alcohol before you inject.
  • Avoid injecting into the same spot over and over again.
  • If you don't have a new syringe and needle and you must inject drugs before you can get clean ones, clean the syringe and needle with bleach to reduce your risk of infection.

Cleaning with Bleach and Water

If you are unable to obtain a new syringe, careful cleaning may reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV and other blood-borne diseases. Rinse the syringe and needle with clean water to remove all the blood. Fill with full strength bleach and shake; after 30 seconds, squirt it out through the needle. Rinse with clean water to remove the bleach.

Protecting Yourself and Others

  • Learn your HIV status: Get tested. If you are infected, you can learn how to take care of yourself and avoid passing HIV to others, avoid getting reinfected, and get help telling your partners.
  • Regular drug use can lead to dependence. Drug treatment can help you stop using drugs. Call the toll free number in this brochure for more information about drug treatment.
  • Overdose is a risk. Heroin and other opioid (methadone, Oxycontin, etc.) overdose is more likely when mixing opioids with other depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines and when using after a period of abstinence (being clean), including detoxification or jail. Using alone is always risky but particularly under these circumstances. Someone may be overdosing if he or she cannot be woken up with a shake. If someone overdoses, call 911 and perform rescue breathing. Opioid users and their friends and families can learn about and obtain a legal medication called naloxone that will stop an overdose from being fatal while waiting for emergency services to arrive. Cocaine and amphetamine overdose symptoms may include seizures, uncontrollable activity, and psychosis or cardiac events. Naloxone is not effective in treating these symptoms. Call 911 immediately.
  • Syringe exchange programs (SEPs) exchange used syringes for new, sterile ones and help you find medical care; drug treatment and get tested for HIV.
  • If you're having sex, use a male latex or female condom every time. HIV, hepatitis B, and other diseases may be spread through unprotected sex.
  • Ask your doctor or local health department clinic for a hepatitis B vaccine and testing for HIV and hepatitis C. If you are HIV infected, ask about HIV treatment.

How to Get Help: Toll-Free Numbers

  1. For help quitting drugs, you can get referrals from the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) at 1-877-8HOPENY (1-877-846-7369). Or, in New York City, call 1-800-LIFENET (543-3638), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is an anonymous help line run by the Mental Health Association of New York City for persons seeking treatment for drugs, alcohol or emotional problems.
  2. To find ESAP disposal sites and syringe exchange programs, HIV testing sites, and to access services near you and to get answers to your questions about HIV/AIDS and safe syringe and needle disposal, call the New York State Department of Health HIV/AIDS Hotlines:
    • English 1-800-541-AIDS
    • Spanish 1-800-233-SIDA
    • Deaf/TTY 1-212-925-9560
    • Voice callers can use the NY Relay 711 or 1-800-421-1220
  3. For more information on Overdose Prevention Programs in New York State call 212-417-4770 or visit the Opioid Overdose Prevention website.
  4. For more information on where you can safely dispose of your used syringes, visit the NYS Safe Sharps Collection Program site. This list includes alternative sites that are not hospitals or nursing homes.

Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP)

Under a new law in New York State, persons age 18 years and older can legally possess hypodermic needles and syringes obtained through ESAP. These syringes and needles may be purchased or obtained without prescription from participating licensed pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants ( Public Health Law Section: 3381, Chapter 56, Laws of 2000).

You may also purchase syringes and needles with a prescription at a licensed pharmacy or obtain syringes and needles from an authorized syringe exchange program.

Possession of syringes in accordance with the Public Health Law is legal. Persons legally possessing syringes are not subject to arrest or prosecution under the Penal Law. Lawful sale or furnishing of syringes by participating providers/facilities is also legal. This applies to both registered ESAP providers and authorized syringe exchange programs.

The actual sale or possession of illegal drugs is still a crime and puts you at risk of arrest and criminal prosecution.

Disposing of Syringes and Needles Safely

To dispose of used syringes and needles safely:

  1. Put used syringes and needles in a plastic bottle, such as a laundry detergent or bleach bottle; the bottle should be unbreakable and puncture-resistant.
  2. Close the screw-on top tightly and label your sealed container: "Contains Sharps".
  3. Don't use coffee cans; plastic lids can come off easily; don't use glass bottles which may break.

Do NOT put a plastic container with used syringes out with the recyclable plastics.

Check with your local health, sanitation, or public works department or trash collector before you dispose of used syringes and needles in your household trash.

Hospitals accept used syringes and needles when put in containers using the steps listed above. The used syringes and needles then become regulated medical waste and the hospitals must handle them in accordance with Environmental Conservation Law. This helps to protect the environment.

Syringe exchange programs in New York State can dispose of your used syringes and give you new, sterile syringes.

Exposed needles are dangerous. If you don't have a puncture-resistant container, recap your needle after you use it. Don't recap needles used by other people