TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Overdose deaths hit a new record in Pima County last year.
The Church of Safe Injections Tucson has a mission to make sure the community stays alive another day and does it while also preventing illnesses like AIDS and hepatitis.
"We focused primarily on folks who faced barriers and accessing that needle exchange, whether it be due to transportation because they were street-based or house-less or because they had to work during those times, or didn't have transportation," said Beth Weisse.
Weisse and the team can be seen leaving boxes like this at homeless camps as a way to promote safety measures.
The group is faced with misconceptions that they may be enabling those struggling with drug use.
"Fire extinguishers parachutes bulletproof vests, like all of these things are to improve the safety and the well being and any positive change for the activities that people are already engaging in. And so that's how we're doing as well, is just providing Naloxone and sterile supplies. No one should have to die just because they use drugs," said Weisse.
Despite the misconceptions, programs like these are legal at the Federal level and at the State level in Arizona.
[Related: New law legalizes needle exchange programs]
"We've distributed over 1100 naloxone kits to people who use drugs, and that has resulted in 443 successful reversals. So that's 443 people that are still alive, another day," said Weisse.
Weisse said the statistics are based on communication with the homeless community and how often they are giving out new cases.
It also opens the door for programs like the church of safe injections to secure more funding.
"Absolutely, we'll be applying for more funding opportunities now that more people are able to fund such an organization," said Weisse.