Harm Reduction

Harm reduction began decades ago when the U.S. government mandated seatbelts and motorcycle helmets as public health policies providing preventions and protections for entire populations. 

In partnership with Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services, Sunrise’s Harm Reduction Program is a proactive and evidence-based approach to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with substance use at both the individual and community levels. Our work is grounded in protecting the safety and dignity of program participants. 

Our Certified Peer Support Specialists with their own lived experience with harm reduction “meet people where they are” and provide peer support, resource connection, safety precaution and education. We provide these resources without judgement, coercion, or discrimination and recognize that harm reduction can be a pathway to prevention, treatment and recovery services.


Evidence shows that harm reduction saves lives by preventing drug-related deaths and offering access to healthcare, social services and treatment. This results in a reduction of overdose fatalities, acute life-threatening infections related to unsterile drug injection and chronic disease such as HIV/HCV. 

Our Peer Support Specialists have the unique opportunity to establish trusted and consistent relationships with a population that is typically hidden, fearful of authority and isolated from the community, and can instill hope and possibility for a better future. Call 828-747-9483 to speak to someone in our Harm Reduction Program or click here to access Harm Reduction resources.

Call 828-747-9483 to speak to a Peer Support Specialist about Harm Reduction, Safe Syringe pickup or Safe Syringe disposal or to schedule an educational training.

What does Sunrise's Harm Reduction program do?

  • Connects individuals to overdose education and referral to treatment for infectious diseases and substance use disorders.
  • Distributes overdose reversal medications (e.g. Naloxone) to individuals at risk of overdose or to those in a position to respond to an overdose.
  • Distributes sterile injection equipment to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and prevents injury or death from infections.
  • Provides trainings and education on harm reduction safety measures and overdose prevention including Safe Syringe Disposal, Administering Naloxone (Narcan) and Harm Reduction. Call 828-747-9483 to schedule a training.
  • Reduces stigma associated with substance use and
    co-occurring disorders.
  • Maintains multiple safe syringe disposal units within Asheville City limits and safely removes syringes or biohazardous materials found on properties located within the city limits. 
  • Free safer use and safer sex supplies 
  • Rapid Hep C and HIV testing
  • Fentanyl and Xylazine testing strips

The U.S. is experiencing the most significant substance use and overdose epidemic it has ever faced, driven by the proliferation of highly potent synthetic opioids containing primarily fentanyl and other analogues. 

Provisional data from CDC shows that we have crossed the tragic milestone of 100,000 overdose deaths from May 2020 to April 2021- more than deaths caused by traffic accidents and gunshot combined. An estimated 79,117 Americans died from drug overdoses between January and September 2022, fewer than the 81,155 people who died during the first nine months of 2021, but still 50 percent higher than pre-2020 levels. 

The Biden-Harris Administration has included harm reduction as an important part of a comprehensive approach to addressing substance use disorders through prevention, treatment, and recovery where individuals who use substances set their own goals. 

If you or someone you know needs Harm Reduction materials (syringe exchange, Naloxone, wound care) call 828-747-9483 or visit Buncombe County DHHS at 40 Coxe Avenue, downtown Asheville. 

If you would like an educational training for your business, group, or faith community on safe syringe disposal, how to administer Narcan, or harm reduction education please call 828-747-9483

If you need our Harm Reduction Specialist to come to your location to safely remove syringes or set up a safe syringe disposal box, please call 
(828) 475-9952.