JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- The Clark County Health Department launched its needle exchange program Thursday and handed out about 500 needles to six people.

Program administrators say they were not sure how many to expect on the first day.

“What we hear is they are shooting up more often with less drug for the fear of overdose,” said Laura Lindley, who helps oversee the program for the department.  

With the especially potent heroin being sold, addicts go through more needles, but there is a cap on how many they can get every week.

“The limit is going to be 140," Lindley said. "That would be for someone that uses 20 times a day."

The goal of the program is to prevent the spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV, which can be spread from sharing needles.

“It’s not just syringes that are handed out," Lindley said. "It’s a lot of harm-reduction supplies: sterile water, alcohol swabs, Neosporin..."

The county saw 55 overdose deaths in 2015, and in 2016, 89 people died of overdoses, according to Lindley.

Clark County’s exchange is open every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The health department is hoping to expand to twice a week and eventually use a mobile medical vehicle to reach smaller communities in the county.

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