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Growing concern among residents due to needles littering Minneapolis neighborhoods

Updated: August 30, 2019 08:21 PM

It's a growing problem in Minneapolis that's putting a strain on resources and the patience of people living in some areas. Used hypodermic needles are being found littering some city neighborhoods, causing some to worry they could accidently prick themselves.

"Some of us are lost in our addiction to where we don't realize the things that we are doing, even toward other people," said Clarista, who has been using drugs since she was 12.

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"That's all I know. My parents never taught me any other way," said Clarista.

For many, it's an addiction spanning across generations.

As the opioid crisis continues across America and the Twin Cities sees an uptick in use, one volunteer group is trying to make the lives of Clarista and so many other drug users a little less dangerous.

Volunteers with Southside Harm Reduction Services clean up areas saturated with syringes while also building relationships with those who may need the support.

"I'm saving a life. And I'm helping them save their lives and realizing how valuable they are," said Michael Savage, who volunteers for Southside Harm Reduction Services.

They also have a needle exchange program where they collect used needles and give the person new, clean ones.

"I feel like the needle exchange is a really good thing, I've seen people pick up a dirty needle on the ground and use it," said Clarista.

But beyond needle cleanups and needle exchanges, the solution to eliminating drug addiction may be less complicated than it seems.

"Be there for them. Cause I feel like a lot of us here are just looking for love in the wrong places because we've never felt that or had that," said Clarista.

It's a cry for help, as one volunteer group in the community works on ways to respond.

"So like anything really, letting them know that you care, and that you're there," said Clarista.

If you need to request volunteers to help with syringe cleanup in your neighborhood, fill out the form here.

If you want to get involved with Southside Harm Reduction services, you can sign up for the email list here. The volunteer organization also has groups working together every Thursday night, and two regular street cleanups a week that everyone is welcome to attend. 

Southside Harm Reduction services is entirely funded by small grants and donations, and run completely by volunteers. If you would like to help, you can donate resources by clicking here.

For more info on syringe disposal, you can go to the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Ramsey and Hennepin counties also have guidelines for disposing of needles and syringes.

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Credits

Crystal Bui

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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