Thank You For Taking The Needle Exchange Survey

Thank you for taking the unofficial Santa Cruz County Needle Exchange Survey. I will use the survey results in discussions on the radio, with county officials, and elsewhere. Your information is private and only aggregated data will be shared in a summary format.

Please share this survey with as many people as possible. This is a short link straight to the survey – or you can point users to the main survey page here –

Please listen to The Ethan Bearman Show Sunday evenings around the country/online, and KSCO Presents weekdays (except Wednesdays) from noon to 2 p.m. on AM 1080 KSCO. For all the ways to hear the shows click the link to the How to Listen page

The Ethan Bearman Show

37 thoughts on “Thank You For Taking The Needle Exchange Survey

  1. These problems will never go away until Santa Cruz makes drug use an unacceptable act. Drug users are committing crimes to support their habits. Police arrest people that will never be prosecuted. Capitola and Scott’s valley don’t have these problems because they have a zero tolerance for these type of behaviors. Rats run from the light.

    1. I lived in Capitola for over 15 years, and we do have people smoking meth and shoting heroin. As a kid I used to see it almost every day under the bridge between the Mansion and Nobhill. So I believe your point is moot unfortunatley. A 1:1 ratio for needle exchange is a great way for dirty needles staying off the street, but thats not to say we should be enabling bad behavior.

      1. Cody,
        Thanks for taking the survey.

        How is a survey, which our government has not done in 20 years on this topic, moot? Gathering input through a nonprobability sample survey is one method to get an idea of what people are thinking and how they feel. I encourage you to share this with everyone you know in the County of Santa Cruz, regardless of political leanings or socio-economic status. I have posted this everywhere I can and encourage everyone to do the same.

    2. “Rats run from the light.” Wow, such a compassionate soul. I agree with your ideas, but this last line, shows that you are sympathy-challenged.

  2. Quit enabling and making using convenient in Santa Cruz. A larger problem society has doesn’t mean our community needs to take it on.

  3. when it becomes more trouble than its worth for able bodied young homeless drug addicts to aggressively panhandle, vandalize and burglarize our citizens, tourists and merchants, then they will have to either leave or change. We as a community need to make it unbearable to be able to live a welfare life of drug addiction and burglary. County courts need to take responsibility for how they have enabled recidivism by non-enforcement.

  4. I’ve been to 2 city hall meetings on “safety” lately and was disgusted with many of the people who came. Is there a witch hunt going on? I have lived in Santa Cruz for years and just bought my first home here. I have never had a problem with drug users in Santa Cruz. I am a health care professional and deal with needles every day. I also volunteer to lead beach cleans in Santa Cruz and am locally leading a federal study on Japanese tsunami marine debris. Yes, I find the occasional needle. There seem to be a bunch of anti science and Not In My Backyard people screaming about drug users at these meetings. The only thing I can figure is these people screaming about the homeless problem equaling the drug problem equaling the needle problem are looking for attention and to make themselves feel better. Must be like racism – if you put down members of society that are worst off, and pile it all on further, and a bit more, and add a bit more, does it make you feel better? are you a better person if they are worse off? (PS – your survey itself is biased by the sample of people who you ask to fill it out and by the people who take the time to do so being the ones with the big fear of needles. They want somebody to point a finger at and scream. If they were truly afraid of the diseases spread by needles, they would listen to the science and support needle exchanges.)

    1. Dr. Mottishaw,
      You should be pleased to know this survey has been shared on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, my blog, on the radio, through emails, on, on, and with everyone encountered. Nonprobability sampling while not perfect, is still valid. Web Based Network Sampling is a standard, documented, accepted, and peer-reviewed methodology. I suggest you start with Wejnert, C., & Heckathorn, D. D. (2008, June 10). Web-Based Network Sampling Efficiency and Efficacy of Respondent-Driven Sampling for Online Research. SOCIOLOGICAL METHODS & RESEARCH, 37(1), 105-134. Take a look at what Pew Research has to say about sampling -

      Are you sure you wish to paint people with such a broad stroke? Should our government simply become a technocracy and ignore the citizens or the will of the citizens?

      You might be interested in the following as well, which has been shared with the HSA: I mentioned the Scottish study that raises interesting questions, “Hepatitis C virus infection among injecting drug users in Scotland: a review of prevalence and incidence data and the methods used to generate them”. The URL is
      There are two key questions raised in the study: why aren’t rates falling, why are users still sharing needles? The other question never addressed in the studies is the less common sexual transmission. We do know from CDC data that HIV transmission rates are rising again in the unprotected, male/male sex (MSM) category so inference would lead to a suggestion that the same attitude might cause issues in the IDU category, even though IDU HIV transmission is vey low (

      And you might be interested in a more critical study of needle exchanges also shared with the HSA – “Evidence (‘weak’) for the effectiveness of sterile injecting equipment provision in preventing hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus transmission among injecting drug users: a review of reviews” –

      Thank you for taking the survey and please do share with others.

    2. I took the survey and I fully support the needle exchange program. I am upset by the people that complain about finding needles in the streets and on the beaches but don’t support the program, it doesn’t make any sense. People will use drugs whether there’s an exchange program or not.

      1. How the hell can you be “upset” by people “complaining” about dirty needles? Are you nuts or doing a poor job at being sarcastic? Its attitudes like this that drove me and many many other business people OUT of Santa Cruz!

    3. I agree with much of what you say Dr. Mottishaw. I do also find a mean-spiritedness in many of the people who discuss the needle exchange program or the homeless in general.

      1. Trudy your tolerance has apparently turned to ultra tolerance which is the anything goes mentality & what many are frustrated, sick & tired of. It wont work in the long term unless you want to go the way of ancient Rome….

  5. There’s considerable reference to how we are enabling behavior or proposing elimination of drug use, specifically in Santa Cruz. These are simply perceptions; Santa Cruz has no more use than many other communities. It also ignores that the drug use isn’t limited to the homeless, gangs or prostitutes. There are many, many drug users who are wealthy, professionals, considered religious and educated. The users can – and do – include the children of these families.

    “Enabling” is different than efforts to be compassionate. Our issue is with how to effectively deal with, not eliminate, drug abuse. Incarceration, efforts at suppression and vilifying broad lifestyles will never resolve the problems.

    Further, we will not ‘eliminate’ drug use by stopping needle exchanges, clinical and educational efforts or programs. It certainly will not end by exorcising the homeless or panhandlers from the streets and shelters.

  6. This needle exchange is the definition of insanity. Keep doing it and things will change! All this city does is enable bad behavior through this program under the guise of compassion and public health. What a joke.

    Bad behavior has consequences, and 99% of the time those consequences come to punish those not participating in the behavior.

    So yeah, Santa Cruz officials, let’s just keep doing what we’re doing!
    Well done you dumbas**s!

  7. I agree with all the people who say to not give them out! Who are you kidding when you try to say it will stop transmission of diseases. Get real and stop the drug dealers !! It is so wrong to enable the druggies to continue using. No over the counter hypos ( diabetes), needles or any medical supplies that is needed!

    1. In response to Shirley Stroh, the hope is thay through the collection of the used needles in return fot the new needles thay the number of diseases transmitted by those needles would be lessened ss they have been removed from use. Ad such they wont be discarded on the beach or elsewhere that might subject members of yhe public to step on them and potentially infect themselves with whatever diseases the drug user may have had. Same is true of reducing needle sharing amongst users. If you are opposed to this then O’m not sure you are capable of critical thought.

  8. I had surgery and after only 21 days I was tired of the drug induced fog I was in due to pain medication. Went cold turkey and all was fine for 24 hours. After that, I was in full on withdrawal. It lasted one week and no one could do anything to make it better. it was horrible. I swore the pain of the operation would have been easier to take. My suggestion to combat this heroin/meth problem would be to incarcerate people immediately using these drugs and let them dry out for a week at the farm. After that they can go back to their lifestyle and repeat if caught again. Trust me, the more times you have to go through what I did, the lesson will be learned. It only took me once.

  9. Hi Ethan, Per your request on the radio today, I promised that I would take the survey. If you remember, I am a native born Santa Cruzin’. I have also worked in the healthcare industry here for 30+ years. You called me a healthcare professional (like that lame vet) however I prefer the term amature (“ama” coming from the Latin amor) because I do what I do for the love of it. After years of dealing with addicted patients, as well as those with aids and hepatitis, I have been EDUCATED by my patients that no amount of clean needles will deter addicts from sharing needles. It is a bond, a brother/sisterhood that encourages them to share needles. The exchange of a minute amount of blood while sharing needles blood bonds them together. When I used to ask, ” Aren’t you worried about blood born pathogens?” the response is that their lifestyle is going to kill them anyway. And yes, there are a few functioning addicts out there that get by for a few years but the untreated prognosis is that they will eventually end up on the streets tossing their used wares on the ground. It is time to wake up and stop trying to appease our guilty conscience by providing clean apparatus and fooling ourselves that that is going to improve their lives. It only drags us down to their level. Unfortunately, abstinence, like with most uncontrollable unhealthy behaviors, is the only, albeit painful, solution.

    1. Yours is the most cogent and credible reply I’ve read so far. You make a persuasive argument without the vitriol and name calling of other posters who disagree with the program. Thank you.

  10. Free needles are so common in Santa Cruz that they are worth nothing. They have the value of garbage and are treated as such. Let’s change that. Let’s make needles worth something. Let’s make them precious so they aren’t so casually discarded.

  11. Ethan-
    I Like your show- Been a listener to KSCO for 25+- years and not a caller. (just to hard with work).

    My short rant, I am a resident of Soquel of 30 years and a resident of Boulder Creek of 20. This county is degrading in so many ways it’s pathetic!

    In my youth, You could hunt, fish, Cut a tree down in your yard here. You could leave your doors unlocked, You knew your neighbor and friends that would visit.. I could walk on Pacific Ave anytime of the day without having to watch my back.

    I could hunt/hike in the Santa Cruz mountains without fear of running into a drug cartel.

    Now We have used Drug needles laying around everywhere? WTH! This is not the county I grew up in by any stretch of the immigration that we are living now!!!!!

    Thanks for the chance at the rant-

  12. This community has thousands of recovering, clean drug addicts.
    And has always had drug addiction ! ( though people actually had housing in the past).
    The current, most vocal and raging people in this community are the most ignorant I have ever seen, when it comes to the disease of addiction and all related medical issues – especially – implications of clean needles vs. not. The entire World’s Medical professionals have agreed and recommend “clean needle every time”, whether it’s on the street or in a Medical facility.. (Ironically, the disturbing public presence of discarded needles indicate this protection is being followed by the IDUs.)
    We need Public Health EDUCATION as to why that “every time” policy is. No one seems to get it, regarding HIV and HEP C epidemics, and how they actually were/are spread and can be risk to —>> everyone. Needles on the ground will be the good old days if clean distribution disappears.
    Safe Disposal – what changed ? Find out and do it again.
    Lastly, Public Health Policies should not be made by non health and epidemiology -educated Political pressure.
    Thank you

  13. I have a question: what would needle exchanges cost the tax payer while ending the war on drugs (something to which Ron Paul has always held fast)? I think these exchanges should also include counseling.

  14. Needle exchange that is one for one is a good place to start to reduce used and disease ridden hazardous waste in our community but the fact that users can also buy 30 at a time without prescription from local pharmacies needs to end

  15. Leaving used needles lying around is rude and dangerous behavior.

    Handing needles to those who don’t have any manners is stupid.

    One cannot straight away support and enable the behavior without suffering the obvious and foreseeable consequences.

  16. I would not be shocked to find out one or more Santa Cruz county official is the real Breaking Bad’s Walter White.

  17. De-criminalize drugs and addictions, and treat it as a public health problem–that’s the best way to handle this difficult situation. Be prepared to act quickly to apprehend violent offenders, and establish consequences for repeat offenders. Offer recovery to as many people as possible, but get them out of recovery programs when and if it becomes clear they’re not ready for it, or shining it on. Some people are simply unable to handle the pressures of life, and need sedatives for emotional pain. Try to guide such addiction-prone people toward the safest practices, and keep offering them recovery as an alternative. A hard-headed common-sense approach is what’s needed, and that starts by seeing addictions as a public-health issue and not a moral issue. That is very hard for many Americans who are addicted to aggression and punishment against the weak and emotionally-burdened.

    1. Its a heath issue AND a moral issue! Why do these things have to be in one box or another?

  18. As an insulin dependant diabetic born and raised here, I can no longer purchase my insulin syringes in the county in quantities of more than 10 syringes at a time thanks to the drug addicts. These syringes are made for DIABETICS, not drug addicts.
    On a side note, I have no medical insurance and pay out of pocket for everything, including sharps containers and syringes. I recently asked someone who works with the needle exchange program if I could also participate in this program. He said the only way I could is if I lie and tell them I’m a drug addict. If they find out you are using these needles for the purpose in which they were and are manufactured, I would be turned away.
    We as a community are rolling the red carpet out for illegal drug use.
    I can think of many other ways to put the money this program spends to much better use.

    1. Gidget
      Thanks for posting about your needle exchange program experience. It makes me sick that people like you are punished because you obey the law.

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