Meet Lois Hagarty: Influential Lobbyist Standing with PAHRC to Fight for Syringe Service Programs

Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition (PAHRC) is excited to announce our newest partnership with Lois Sherman Hagarty—a 13-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Legislature and principal at State Street Advisors.

We are incredibly grateful that Lois has agreed to support our mission at PAHRC by taking us on as a pro bono client and support our work on expanding access to sterile syringes for people who use drugs. Working with her comes at a critical time for our organization and for the state of Pennsylvania. She will be an invaluable resource as we continue to advocate for much-needed changes that help improve the quality of life for people who use drugs, people in recovery, and their communities.

One of these much-needed changes include implementing Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) across Pennsylvania. SSPs, also referred to as needle exchange programs, syringe exchange programs, or syringe access programs, reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, reduce overdose deaths, and increase entry into substance use treatment (people who interact with SSPs are five times more likely to enter treatment).

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Harm Reduction Works

For many, the reality that harm reduction and recovery go hand in hand can be challenging to see.  The idea that people ought to be engaged, supported and empowered, even while actively using substances and without the requirement of abstinence, can be difficult for many who view abstinence as paramount to recovery.  Some people living in recovery may believe that the act of supporting people while in their active substance use and allowing them the right to use can serve as a barrier to people finding recovery –  this line of thinking typically comes out in statements such as “we are preventing people from hitting rock bottom, and hitting rock bottom is necessary for people to be ready for recovery.”

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