Louisville Magazine

AUG 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Page 36 of 140

34 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.16 A BIT DEEPER plastered on the sides. From TV news cameras, it can look suspicious. "Taxpayer- funded syringes!" cried a WAVE-3 news investigation last fall. From the inside, it's wholly un-sinister, almost disarmingly so. ere's a snug lobby area with blue waiting chairs and brochures advertising treatment. La Rocco's fellow health department employee checks folks in, joking with the regulars and offering a friendly, formal introduction about the program for newcomers. La Rocco has engaged with many of the 3,679 participants who have visited, nearly half returning regularly. With his curly mohawk, tattoos and boyish charm, the 34-year-old is easily relatable. Some clients form schoolgirl crushes. Some form schoolboy crushes. Watch him work. It's in the casual moments between passing out needles and alcohol swabs and red needle-disposal bins that he leans on the counter, crosses his left leg over his right and tries to make a connection, talking about family or the weather or the right way to inject (e.g.: "If you're going to 'run' the same vein, give yourself one-third to three-quarters of an inch between spots," he'll say, showing four small pen marks on his biceps spaced out accordingly.) Or, hey, when you're ready, there are lots of options out there: inpatient, outpatient, medical detox, Suboxone and methadone to help relieve opioid dependency. (Seventy-six percent of the needle exchange's clients use heroin, an opioid pain killer.) "Drug treatment that works really well is drug treatment that's kind and loving and caring and compassionate and honest and straightforward and has boundaries," says La Rocco, referring in the last word to the strict hours of operation (which vary day to day) and the rule that no one can acquire needles if obviously high. "But you can't do this and not love people. Because if you do this and you don't love people, all you're doing is handing out needles. So that's going to help stop HIV and hepatitis C from spreading, but (the clients) are not going to trust you and talk. And we're not going to see all the other positive stuff happening." He says folks who visit syringe exchanges are five times more likely to seek treatment than those who do not. First-timers often enter with knees bouncing, on edge, perhaps expecting a lecture or shame, not an open, neutral WHICH LOUISVILLE AREA PET WILL BE FEATURED ON OUR COVER? Pick up a copy of our September "Animals" issue to find out! L O U I S V I L L E M A G A Z I N E ' S C VER PET C NTEST Presented by

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