Syringe exchanges, known as Syringe Services Programs (SSP) by the Tennessee Department of Health, aren’t very common in Tennessee. Still, we’re fortunate enough to have a few of them.
A total of five organizations run nine SSP sites across Tennessee: three in Memphis, two in Nashville, and four in East Tennessee (Chattanooga, Johnson City, Knoxville, and Newport).
The Memphis Area Prevention Coalition’s Safe Point operates each Wednesday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at 28 N. Claybrook Street in Memphis, Tennessee. MAPC also sets up shop on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 3628 Summer Avenue, which is also in Memphis.
A Betor Way is also in Memphis, though at 1571 Sycamore View Road. It operates every Friday from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Although it’s not an SSP, the Shelby County Health Department operates a Needle Disposal Program. Visit 814 Jefferson Ave.’s Central Laboratory, found in Room 258, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to get a sharps container and to turn in used syringes. Note that, unlike every other SSP listed here, Shelby County Health Department charges a “minimal fee” for its syringe disposal services.
Nashville is only home to one SSP, Street Works, which ran for years on an underground basis before earning an official title as one of the Volunteer State’s few Syringe Services Programs. Street Works runs an SSP on 907 Gallatin Pike in Madison from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Street Works has at least one other SSP. Although it’s registered at 101 Old Trail Court in Nashville, participants are advised to call ahead for services — (615) 779-4840. This number works for both of Street Works’ locations.
East Tennessee is home to four SSPs, two of which are run by Cempa Community Care, the other two by Choice Health Network.
Chattanooga’s SSP is run by Cempa and can be found at 4001 Rossville Blvd. From Monday through Thursday, the Cempa SSP operates from 8;30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., taking a 45-minute break for lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It closes three hours early on Fridays, shutting its doors at 1:30 p.m. Call (423) 834-7374 for additional info.
The Tri-Cities area’s sole SSP, also known as the Syringe Trade and Education Program of Tennessee (STEP TN), is found at 615 North State of Franklin St. in Johnson City and runs Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., though is closed for lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Its phone number is (423) 930-8337 ext. 117.
Operated by Choice Health Network, Knoxville’s lone SSP is found at 1925 Ailor Avenue. Participants are encouraged to call ahead to make appointments — (865) 208-7356.
Fun fact: This location is the Volunteer State’s newest syringe exchange. Found at 2165 Cosby Highway in Newport, it’s open on Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Feel free to call Choice Health Network at (865) 208-7356.
As of now, unfortunately, there aren’t any syringe services programs in rural Tennessee. This leaves most of Tennessee’s injection drug users shit outta luck.
I recommend visiting pharmacies — try independent ones — for syringes, though you it’s normal to get turned down. If this doesn’t work, reach out to the free mail-based supply distributor NEXT Distro.
If you’re willing to shell out a few bucks — which you’re probably already doing to buy syringes from friends, family members, or dealers — look online for diabetes supplies stores. Don’t be afraid to buy syringes online. Even if you’re apprehensive to buy rigs online, take a chance! Your veins will thank you later.
Still don’t know where to turn? We’ve compiled a list of legitimate, reliable places to buy syringes online just for you — just click here!
Interested in learning more about syringe services programs in Tennessee? We’ve got you covered.