Challenge’s Inc. is a non-profit in the Upstate, working to provide services and tools to drug users. Their new mobile bus is up and running, which gives the program the ability to expand its outreach to more people than before.
The main goal is harm reduction— done through things like syringe exchange and giving people clean using supplies.
“So that we can reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, emergency room visits, abscesses, endocarditis. All sorts of things,” said Program Director for Challenges Inc., Marc Burrows. “And overdose, of course.”
Burrows said with the non-profit’s new mobile bus, it makes outreach even more accessible to provide wrap-around services.
“We give out basic using supplies, so syringes, different types of syringes, and all of the paraphernalia used to use drugs,” Burrows said. “So, like cookers and cottons, cotton filters, tourniquets, alcohol swabs, we give out condoms as well.”
But stresses, it’s not just about providing free supplies to drug users.
Instead, it’s about putting the user in the driver’s seat to want to get better or make conscientious decisions.
“For instance, with the HIV and Hep C testing, we can do that here,” Burrows said. “We can do recovery coaching, we can do referrals to treatment.”
As he puts it, drug use is inevitable.
“It’s kind of like the same way telling high school kids not to have sex,” Burrows said. “We know that they’re going to do it. So, instead of denying that, we give them sex education and condoms so that they can be safe.”
That’s why his non-profit works to try and at least mitigate some of the outcomes that come with doing drugs, like providing naloxone for overdoses.
That’s something volunteer Kris Stepp can get behind.
“I am actually volunteering because my daughter Jessica was found dead on Easter of last year in 2020, in a motel room in Columbia from a fentanyl overdose,” said Stepp.
He said after that, he wanted to do something to make a difference…..”