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Taking action to care for your physical and emotional well-being, in the best way you can, is an essential part of living a quality life.

Access to fact-based resources, such as those listed below, can help. No matter what the circumstances, inform yourself, and make the best choices possible for your own health.


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What would you do if you had the flu?

COVID-19 is about as infectious as the flu virus. Learn more about how to stay healthy and safe at Provided by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department..

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.

Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, there is still a lot that is unknown . This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.


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Tacoma Needle Exchange cares about the safety and well being of our participants and community and asks that we work together to properly dispose of all sharps. If you are unable to return your sharps to one of outreach locations please consider utilizing one of two disposal kiosks. In collaboration with our local Fire Department and Catholic Worker House two syringe disposal kiosks have been installed. A disposal kiosk is located at the East side of G street just South of 14th street next to the Guadalupe house community garden. The second disposal kiosk is located at the entrance of the Tacoma Fire Department Station #1, at 9th and Fawcett.

Domestic Violence Resources

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone. Abuse does not discriminate. It affects victims of any age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, or economic standing. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship are the first steps to ending it. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in an abusive relationship, reach out now. There is help available. No one should live in fear of the person they love.

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Domestic violence often occurs when the abusive partner believes that abuse is an entitlement, acceptable, justified, or unlikely to be reported. 

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. 

Abuse can range anywhere from physical to sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. 

Do you:

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:

  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for their own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • force you to have sex?
  • destroy your belongings?
  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?

Women Specific Services In the U.S.: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

LGBT National Hotline: Call The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564

Men Specific Services In the U.S. and Canada: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Love is Respect Teen Hotline: Call 1-866-331-9474 or Text LOVEIS to 22522 

  • Healthy Relationship Quiz  Icon: PDF
    This quiz and information is courtesy of Love is Respect. Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship. Do you know if your relationship is healthy? Answer Yes or No to the following questions to find out. Make sure to check the boxes to record your responses. At the end, you'll find out how to score your answers. 
  • How Would You Help Quiz  Icon: PDF
    This quiz and information is courtesy of Love is Respect. Please remember that it is difficult and scary to leave an unhealthy relationship. Take this quiz to find out how ready and willing you are to help. 
  • Types of Abuse  Icon: PDF
    There are many types of abuse (not just physical) and they are all difficult to experience. Download, "Types of Abuse" designed and developed courtesy of Love is Respect.Remember, every type of abuse is serious and no one deserves to experience any form of it.
  • Relationship Rights  Icon: PDF
    Provided by Love is Respect. You have rights in your relationship. Everyone does, and those rights can help you set boundaries that should be respected by both partners in a healthy relationship.
  • Power and Control Wheel (in Spanish)  Icon: PDF
    This wheel was adapted by Asesoria Capacitación y Asistencia en Salud A.C.The Power and Control Wheel is a tool that helps explain the different ways an abusive partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship.
  • LGBTQ Power and Control Wheel (EEL)
    The Power and Control Wheel is a tool that helps explain the different ways an abusive partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship. The follwoing information and Power and Control Wheel are provided by The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Abusive partners in LGBTQ relationships use all the same tactics to gain power and control as abusive partners in heterosexual relationships — physical, sexual or emotional abuse, financial control, isolation and more.
  • Power and Control Wheel (in English) (JPG)
    Provided by The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The Power and Control Wheel is a tool that helps explain the different ways an abusive partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship.
  • DAWN (425) 656-7867  Icon: External link
    ​If you need help and support to deal with an abusive situation, call the 24 Hour Advocacy & Support line. You will be connected to a trained, caring advocate who can help. DAWN can offer a safe place to stay, access to legal advocacy, information, or just someone to listen.
  • KWA Cares (253) 359-0470  Icon: External link
    Supportive services are available to any and all survivors, regardless of gender, age, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or other cultural identities. Supportive services are provided at a separate location from the confidential shelter. Please call the 24/7 hotline for further details.
  • The Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (253) 798-4166  Icon: External link
    Established in 2005 through an agreement between Pierce County and the City of Tacoma, the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (FJC) serves the needs of domestic violence victims and their children by providing comprehensive victim services in one, central, safe location in downtown Tacoma.
  • The Family Renewal Shelter (253) 475-9010  Icon: External link
    Since 1986 through our confidential shelters and programs, we have offered the necessities of safety and life to domestic violence victims who are at highest risk. At first contact, we do whatever it takes to get the victims and their children out of harm’s way.
  • The Northwest Network (206) 568-7777  Icon: External link
    The NW Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse works to end violence and abuse by building loving and equitable relationships in our community and across the country.
  • Turning Pointe (360) 522-7648  Icon: External link
    Turning Pointe operates one of the largest DV shelters in the state. We are a 60-bed shelter that is pet-friendly.
  • YWCA King County (206) 461-4882  Icon: External link
    Confidential emergency shelter and advocacy for women and children facing domestic violence, with locations serving King County. YWCA offers safe and confidential housing for women and families who are experiencing domestic violence (DV). This is a short-term emergency shelter program for women and children only.
  • YWCA Pierce County (253) 383-2593  Icon: External link
    If you or someone you care about is feeling afraid of or controlled by their spouse or intimate partner, YWCA Pierce County is here to help. If it is time to overcome the hurt and frustration of an abusive relationship, you can get support from people who are knowledgeable and understanding. If you have ever wished for a place where you had the safety and freedom to be yourself and explore your dreams for the future, YWCA Pierce County is that place.
  • Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project 24 Hour Hotline (800) 832-1901  Icon: External link
    Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project provides crisis intervention, support and resources for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

Helpful Harm Reduction Tools

"Needle Exchange is a proven method of prevention, so no matter how much I get slapped around, it's rewarding to know I'm serving others and serving the truth." -Dave Purchase

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Below are some helpful links, downloads, and educational tools from friends far and wide. 

  • Drug Policy Alliance Harm Reduction 101  Icon: External link
    Harm reduction is a set of ideas and interventions that seek to reduce the harms associated with both drug use and ineffective, racialized drug policies. Harm reduction stands in stark contrast to a punitive approach to problematic drug use—it is based on acknowledging the dignity and humanity of people who use drugs and bringing them into a community of care in order to minimize negative consequences and promote optimal health and social inclusion. Please contact Drug Policy Alliance for more information on topics discussed in this video at
  • Getting Off Right Safety Manual  Icon: External link
    Courtesy of Harm Reduction Coalition, Getting Off Right provides injection drug users with an easy-to-read document of need to know information. Please contact Harm Reduction Coalition for more information on topics discussed in this manual at
  • Safe Needle Disposal  Icon: External link
    Disposal rules and regulations vary across states and localities. Click on a state to see the guidance or regulations for safely disposing of used sharps in your area.
  • Transgender Health Injection Guide  Icon: External link
    Courtesy of Fenway Health, Transgender Health Injection Guide. Please contact Fenway Health for more information on topics discussed in this guide at

Hot Meals and Food Banks

Food banks acquire donated food and grocery products, much of which would otherwise be wasted, from farms, manufacturers, distributors, retail stores, consumers, and other sources, and make it available to those in need through a network of community agencies.

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Local Hot Meals

  • Tacoma Rescue Mission, Good Neighbor Cafe

(253) 383-4493

425 South Tacoma Way

Tacoma, WA 98402

Drop-in Breakfast Daily: 7am-8am

Drop-in Dinner Daily: 5pm-6pm

Bus Route Pierce Transit #48 - 0.25 mile walk


  • Guadalupe House

(740) 954-0776

1417 South G Street

Tacoma, WA 98405

Every Tuesday: Doors open at 5pm


  • My Sister's Pantry

(253) 627-0129

423 Martin Luther King Jr., Way

Tacoma, WA 98402

Open the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month: 5pm to 7pm

4th Saturday of each month: 10am to 1pm

Bus Route Pierce Transit # 26


  • African American Evening Meal (Operated by Catholic Community Services)

Please call (253) 502-2723 for advance reservations

Held at Catholic Community Services
1323 S. Yakima
Tacoma, WA 98405

Dinner served Thursdays only at 4pm

Free for low income

Bus Route Pierce Transit #45


  • Nativity House

2304 S. Jefferson Street

Tacoma, WA

(253) 272-5266

Meals served Wednesday-Sunday: 11am to 4pm

Free for low income and homeless

Bus Route Pierce Transit #48 - 0.25 mile walk


  • Hospitality Kitchen

1323 S. Yakima
Tacoma, WA 98405


Breakfast: 8:30am to 9:30am

Lunch: 11:30am to 12:30pm

Free for low-income and homeless

Ph: (253) 502-2763

Bus Route Pierce Transit #45


  • Bonney Lake Food Bank (253) 863-4043  Icon: External link
    Homelessness and Poverty contribute to economic challenges resulting in food insecurity for individuals and families within Bonney Lake and the surrounding areas. Many homeless children face the possibility of going to bed hungry. The Bonney Lake Food Bank offers food from every nutritional group, as well as baby items, personal care products and pet food.
  • Buckley Kiwanis Food Bank (253) 266-7309  Icon: External link
    Community food bank serving families within the White River School District boundaries.
  • Des Moines Area Food Bank (206) 878-2660  Icon: External link
    Our mission is to provide emergency food service to those who need in the cities of Des Moines, most of SeaTac, and the West Hill of Kent, Washington. No one is turned away.
  • Eloise's Cooking Pot (253) 212-2778  Icon: External link
    Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank provides quality food to the communities of East and South Tacoma, Washington. Ahndrea, our founder, was concerned about the children in these communities who were not eating on a regular basis due to their families experiencing economic hardship. Without government assistance, Ahndrea began delivering food to her tenants in this area.This is how the foundation for Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank began. The food bank is named after Ahndrea’s grandmother Eloise. Eloise was a woman of humble means, but would generously share whatever food she had by providing a hot meal to anyone who was in need.
  • Families Unlimited Network (253) 460-3134  Icon: External link
    When a family doesn't have enough food, stability in other areas is impossible. Families Unlimited Network's Food Assistance program offers a safe and welcoming environment where you will be able to get fresh, healthy food – including fresh produce, meat, bread, soup, pasta, peanut butter, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, beans, tuna and refrigerated dairy items. Once registered, you will be able to visit our food bank once a month. The amount of food you will be able to receive will be based on the size of your family.
  • Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank (253) 858-6179  Icon: External link
    GHP FISH offers self-shopping, which enables food bank clients to select the foods their family enjoys. Both perishable and non-perishable foods are provided, as well as other grocery items when available. The amount and selection varies depending on donations and supplemental purchases. Please arrive at least 45 minutes prior to closing to shop for yourself. After that time, there is no self-shopping; pre-packed bags of foods will be provided.
  • Graham Food Bank (253) 383-3164  Icon: External link
    This food bank location is at the Holy Disciples Catholic Church. Walk in Mondays and Fridays at the following times: Monday: 10am to 1:30pm Wednesday: 2pm to 6pm
  • Harvest House Food Pantry (360) 893-6842  Icon: External link
    Through the generosity of donors in our community, we are able to stock the shelves of our food pantry with nutritious, well-balanced food items. We give our neighbors the opportunity to select their own groceries based on the quantity we have available.
  • Multi-Service Center of Federal Way (253) 838-6810  Icon: External link
    Multi-Service Center offers supplemental and emergency food to individuals and families who live in the bounds of the Federal Way School District (zip codes: 98003, 98023, parts of 98001, 98032, 98422). Customers may visit the food bank once per week. Multi-Service Center also offers new and gently used clothing to residents of all South King County cities and unincorporated areas through our clothing bank. We also may have housewares such as towels, blankets, or sheets. Customers may visit the clothing bank once a month. The quantity each customer is allowed through the food and clothing bank is based on family size.
  • My Sister's Pantry (253) 627-1186  Icon: External link
    At My Sister's Pantry, you can get a hot meal, stock up on groceries and fresh food, and "shop" for clothing. We know that crisis and financial difficulties can strike anyone. We also understand how difficult it can be to ask for help. That's why we welcome everyone with compassion and kindness. Our hours: We're open the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month from 5-7 pm and the 4th Saturday of the month from 10:30 am-12:30 pm.
  • Nourish Pierce County (253) 383-3164  Icon: External link
    Nourish Pierce County provides nutritious food and support services to people in need with compassion, dignity, and respect. Through our network of seven food banks and two mobile food banks serving eighteen additional sites, we provide food directly to people in need across Pierce County, Washington. Formerly known as Fish Food Banks of Pierce County, Nourish is the oldest, largest food bank network directly serving people in Pierce County.
  • Orting Food Bank (360) 893-0095  Icon: External link
    The Orting Food Bank was started in 2007 by a handful of volunteers to meet the growing needs of the hungry in Orting. Our mission is to assist those in need in our community by providing food and referral services. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
  • Puget Sound Pet Food Bank (253) 250-5078  Icon: External link
    Our mission at Puget Sound Pet Food Bank is to provide food, treats & supplies for pets in need. As of December 2012, there were approximately 1,850 homeless in Pierce County, along with 120,000 residents below the Poverty Level, and for many of these families, the love from their fuzzy friends is an important source of love and stability. To save families from having to give up their loyal companions, we stand here with open arms ready to help families make sure that their animals get the necessities that they need.
  • Puyallup Food Bank (253) 848-5240  Icon: External link
    The food bank’s mission is to provide food to those in need with dignity, to utilize food surpluses, and to increase public awareness on issues of hunger in our community. As a distribution center, we save countless dollars for other food banks, nonprofits and charitable agencies by providing an efficient and centralized location for collecting and distributing food.
  • St. Leo's Food Bank (253) 383-5048  Icon: External link
    From humble beginnings in a garage, the St. Leo Food Bank has become one of the largest emergency food pantries in Pierce County. Our goal is to offer each of our clients at least three days of food for each member of their household. The open hours for the St. Leo Food Bank can change depending on holidays and “closure weeks” which happen throughout the year. We do our best to include unusual schedules on our home page.
  • Tenino Food Bank (360) 264-5505  Icon: External link
    The Tenino Community Service Center provides food to a growing number of families throughout the Tenino-Bucoda area. The Food Bank hours are 9:00am to 11:00am on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 224 Sussex East in Tenino. The Food Bank offers extended hours before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but is closed on all major holidays.
  • The Auburn Food Bank (253) 833-8925  Icon: External link
    The Auburn Food Bank is a volunteer directed organization that provides food, referrals, and emergency assistance to those in need. These services, which are provided year around by a coordinated and systematic approach to the collection and distribution of resources in a responsible and a caring way, will be extended to those living within the Auburn School District #408 boundaries which includes the cities of Algona, Pacific, and the newly annexed areas of Lake Tapps and Kent.
  • The Nourish Food Bank (253) 759-3539  Icon: External link
    The Nourish Food Bank is located at Mason United Methodist Church every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. Please call for more information.
  • Vashon Community Food Bank (206) 463-6332  Icon: External link
    The Food Bank offers four weekly grocery distributions on-site at Sunrise Ridge, behind Neighborcare Health. We provide a welcoming atmosphere and a positive shopping experience for customers. Customers choose from an array of items including fresh fruits and vegetables; protein sources such as chicken, fish, tofu and dairy; cereals/grains, canned goods, coffee/tea, fresh bread, and pastries. We also offer personal hygiene supplies, diapers, and pet food.

Infectious Diseases and Bloodborne Pathogens

Infectious diseases are a leading cause of illness and death throughout the world. Arm yourself with the knowledge to prevent bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases.

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Listed below are only a few infectious diseases and bloodborne pathogens for more detailed information please visit

  • Bacterial Meningitis  Icon: External link
    Bacterial Meningitis is an infection of the membranes (meninges) surrounding the spinal cord and the brain. Meningitis can be caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections.
  • Endocarditis  Icon: External link
    Endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium, the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves. Endocarditis occurs when bacteria, fungi or other germs spread through the bodies bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in the heart.
  • Hepatitis A Virus (HAV)  Icon: External link
    Hepatitis A is a liver disease of varying duration and severity, which is acquired by ingesting contaminated fecal matter from an infected individual via contact with contaminated food, drinks or objects.
  • Hepatitis B (HBV)  Icon: External link
    Hepatitis B is a liver disease of varying duration and severity. Hepatitis B is contracted through semen, infected blood, or other bodily fluids.
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)  Icon: External link
    Hepatitis C causes liver disease of varying duration and severity. Hepatitis C is contracted by coming in contact with infectious fluids and secretions this can include but is not limited to unprotected sex, sharing injection equipment, needle stick injury, and mother-to-child transmission.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)  Icon: External link
    Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the body's immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which assist the immune system in fighting off infections. Left untreated, HIV can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
  • MRSA  Icon: External link
    Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus generally referred to as MRSA is a bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics.
  • Necrotizing Fasciitis (NF)  Icon: External link
    Necrotizing Fasciitis is commonly referred to as flesh-eating disease and occurs when bacteria enters the body through a break (such as a cut or scratch) in the death of the bodies soft tissue.
  • Tuberculosis (TB)  Icon: External link
    Tuberculosis is a disease caused by bacteria referred to as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a contagious infection (spread from one person to person, directly or indirectly) and generally attacks the lungs, but can damage other parts of the body as well.
  • Wound Botulism  Icon: External link
    Wound Botulism occurs when a germ referred to as clostridium botulinum gets into a wound and then makes a toxin.

Know Your Gauge

The following is not intended to be a complete list of all syringes, nicknames, etc. The following gauges and terms are common to our local exchanges.

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"Muscle" or "3's"

  • 23 gauge
  • 25 gauge

Used for "muscling" or simply injecting directly into muscle instead of a vein.


  • 27 gauge

Used for participants that have scarred veins.

"Standards" or "Regulars"

  • 28 gauge 

Used as a standard syringe


  • 29 gauge

Used for small veins and participants who inject in areas such as hands and feet.

"Shorts" or "Bee Stingers" 

  • 31 gauge

Used for surface vein injection.

Know Your Rights

Educate yourself about what your rights are and how to exercise them.

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EVERYONE HAS RIGHTS. These tips are brought to you by ACLU Washington please visit for more information. 

Tips For Safety

  • STAY CALM AND STAY PUT. Don’t run or suddenly move.
  • KEEP YOUR HANDS where the officer can see them and free of any objects if possible.
  • NEVER TOUCH any police officer.
  • FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. You can always make a complaint later if you feel your rights were violated.

You Have The Right To:

  • ASK IF YOU ARE FREE TO LEAVE. If the answer is yes, DO IT! Not every encounter with police is a “stop” and you may be free to just walk away.
  • REMAIN SILENT. Seriously, you don’t have to talk! You can say, “I’m exercising my right to remain silent” and then don’t speak.
  • RECORD the interaction, but be aware that holding or reaching for a mobile device may be viewed as threatening.
  • ASK FOR A LAWYER immediately if you are arrested or taken to a police station. You don’t have to know a lawyer; you can ask for information to call one and they must provide it.
  • DECLINE A REQUEST TO SEARCH your car, your home, your belongings, or your person.
    • Calmly say “I do not consent to a search.”
    • A warrantless search is allowed in some circumstances, but it is always helpful to say you don’t consent to a search.
    • An officer can pat you down if they suspect a weapon.
    • An officer can require that you show your ID if you are driving a car or in certain cases involving alcohol or marijuana.
    • An officer must have a warrant to enter your home unless they are responding to an emergency.

If You Feel Your Rights Have Been Violated:

  • WRITE DOWN everything you can remember, including the officer’s name(s) and/or badge number(s).
  • TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF ANY INJURIES you incurred and SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION even for minor injuries.
  • NASTAD - SSP Policy Environments Across The U.S.  Icon: External link
    NASTAD - Syringe Service Program Policy Environments Across The United States
  • SAMHSA - Rights for Participants on MAT  Icon: External link
    This brochure explains the Federal laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities and how they protect people receiving Medication Assisted Treated (MAT). MAT includes a medication (methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone).
  • ACLU - KNOW YOUR RIGHTS  Icon: External link
    Being stopped by police is a stressful experience that can go bad quickly. Here we describe what the law requires and also offer strategies for handling police encounters. We want to be clear: The burden of de-escalation does not fall on private citizens — it falls on police officers. However, you cannot assume officers will behave in a way that protects your safety or that they will respect your rights even after you assert them. You may be able to reduce risk to yourself by staying calm and not exhibiting hostility toward the officers. The truth is that there are situations where people have done everything they could to put an officer at ease, yet still ended up injured or killed.
  • ACLU - Immigrants’ Rights  Icon: External link
    Regardless of your immigration status, you have guaranteed rights under the Constitution. Learn more here about your rights as an immigrant, and how to express them.
  • ACLU - Know Your LGBTQ Rights  Icon: External link
    Provided by the ACLU, The legal landscape for LGBTQ people is constantly evolving. If you think you have been discriminated against, contact the ACLU LGBT Project and we can help you figure out whether you are protected under federal or state laws.
  • ACLU - What to Do When Interacting with ICE  Icon: External link
    Provided by the ACLU who has joined forces with Brooklyn Defender Services to create and distribute a series of powerful and informative videos based on true stories to provide real life action points for what to do when ICE is outside our doors, is in our homes, stops us in our communities, and/or arrests us.


Medication-Assisted Treatment or Medically-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications including buprenorphine (Suboxone®, Subutex®), methadone, and extended release naltrexone (Vivitrol®) to treat substance use disorders. MAT can help relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and sustain long-term recovery. MAT alone, or in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, has demonstrated success as a method for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) in some individuals struggling with opioid use. For more detailed information see the links below.

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Find practitioners authorized to treat opioid dependency with buprenorphine by state.

  • Find a MAT Provider near you  Icon: External link
    The Washington Recovery Help Line is a program of Crisis Connections. We offer an anonymous, confidential 24-hour help line for Washington State residents. This help line is for those experiencing substance use disorder, problem gambling, and/or a mental health challenge.
  • Medication and Counseling Treatment  Icon: External link
    Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders and prevent opioid overdose.
  • Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)  Icon: External link
    Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which is effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) and can help some people to sustain recovery.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)  Icon: External link
    Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), including opioid treatment programs (OTPs), combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment Improves Outcomes for Patients With Opioid Use Disorder  Icon: External link
    Combination of behavioral health interventions and FDA-approved drugs can help reduce illicit opioid use.

Overdose Education and Prevention

An opioid overdose can occur suddenly or take place slowly over a few hours. An overdose happens when too much of an opioid overwhelms the brain and interrupts the body's natural reaction to breathe. Naloxone or Narcan is a medication used to prevent overdoses caused by opioids such as morphine, oxycodone, or heroin. Naloxone blocks opioid receptors, reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. To receive free training and a personal naloxone kit stop by any of our outreach location or call/text (253) 334-9576.

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Risk factors for an opioid overdose include:

  • Using opioids again after your tolerance has dropped (e.g., like after being in treatment, a hospital, or jail). After a break from opioids, the body can’t handle as much as it did before.
  • Taking prescription pain medication more often or in higher doses than prescribed-or using someone else’s prescription pain medication. The dose could be too much.
  • Using heroin or pills bought on the street. Heroin and street pills often contain other substances that can be dangerously toxic.
  • Using opioids with alcohol or other drugs including sleeping pills, benzodiazepines (“benzos” like Valium and Xanax), cocaine and methamphetamine.
  • Any current or chronic illness that weakens the heart or makes it harder to breathe.
  • Using opioids alone. You are more likely to die from an overdose if no one is there to help.
  • Previous overdose. A person who has overdosed before is more likely to overdose again.

What to do in an opioid overdose

Minutes count in an opioid overdose. If you think someone has overdosed, follow these steps:

1. Check for signs of an overdose:

  • Nonresponsive/won’t wake up. Try rubbing your knuckles hard on their sternum.
  • Slow or no breathing
  • Pale, ashy, cool or clammy skin
  • Blue lips or fingernails

2. Call 911. Tell the dispatcher your location and that someone is not breathing or is unconscious.

If you are trying to help in an overdose, WA State’s 911 Good Samaritan/Overdose Law protects both you and the overdose victim from drug possession charges.

Don’t be afraid to call 911 for help!

If you can’t stay until 911 help arrives: Place the person on their side and where first responders can find them.

3. Give naloxone and rescue breaths.

to administer rescue breathing:

  • Tilt head back. Lift chin. Pinch nose.
  • Give a full breath. Their chest should rise when you exhale.
  • Give a breath every 5 seconds.

Naloxone or Narcan: If you have naloxone, give one dose. Naloxone can take 2-3 minutes to work, so start giving rescue breaths. If the person is still not breathing after 2-3 minutes, give a second dose of naloxone. Continue rescue breathes until the person wakes up or medical help arrives.

Learn more about Naloxone here

In WA State, anyone who might have or witness an overdose can legally possess and administer naloxone.

To ensure you are up to date on the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Laws in your state click here.

4. If the person wakes up and starts breathing, stay with them. Encourage them to get follow-up care.

When naloxone wears off (generally in 30-90 minutes) the person could stop breathing again. Encourage the person to be taken to a clinic or emergency room where health care staff can:

  • Monitor their breathing.
  • Manage any withdrawal symptoms.
  • Treat any other medical conditions.

For this information and more visit

  • Fentanyl Fact Sheet in English  Icon: PDF
    Provided by Public Health Seattle-King County for more information visit
  • Fentanyl Fact Sheet in Spanish  Icon: PDF
    Provided by Public Health Seattle-King County for more information visit
  • Overdose/Crashing  Icon: PDF
    Overdose/Crashing provided by BC Harm Reduction Strategies and Services (HRSS) 2011
  • Preventing an Opioid Overdose  Icon: PDF
    Provided by CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Death from an opioid overdose happens when too much of the drug overwhelms the brain and interrupts the body’s natural drive to breathe.
  • Using Fentanyl?  Icon: PDF
    Using Fentanyl flier provided by The Dope Project. The DOPE Project coordinates the distribution of naloxone to people who use drugs and their family, friends and other possible overdose bystanders in San Francisco, CA. For more information please contact The Dope Project at
  • Fentanyl: The Real Deal  Icon: External link
    As the rise of fentanyl overdoses continues to increase we believe it is extremely important to educate yourself. Remember if you or someone you know is a drug user please remember to never use alone and also carry Naloxone. If you or someone you know is in need of a Naloxone kit please call (253) 334-9576
  • Find naloxone near you  Icon: External link
    Use this map provided by to locate the closest naloxone pharmacy or program near you.
  • Opioid Overdose - Administering Naloxone  Icon: External link
  • WA State Overdose Prevention and Response Training  Icon: External link
    The only video specific to WA State, this training covers overdose risks, the WA State Good Samaritan Law and shows a step-by-step demonstration on what to do in an opioid overdose (including rescue breathing and naloxone).
  • Washington State 911 Good Samaritan Law  Icon: External link
    Seattle Police Department training video about Washington state's 911 Good Samaritan Law, Naloxone distribution, and website. Posted by the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, April 2012.

Sexual Health and Safer Sex

Talking about a safer sex game plan should include both partners and start before having sex (including oral or anal sex). Make sure you and your partner discuss consent, boundaries, agree on a form of protection together and make decisions about getting tested for STDs.

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What Are STDs And How Are They Transmitted

Video provided by Planned Parenthood. For this and more information from Planned Parenthood visit

Condom Sense

Trojan® Gives the Facts about Condoms

Below is a brief overview of STD testing recommendations. As provided by The CDC

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STD should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy. At-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Testing should be repeated as needed to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3- to 6-month intervals).
  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
  • Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.


  • Healthy Bodies, Safer Sex by FSU  Icon: External link
    Provided by Florida State University this is a comprehensive guide to safer sex and reproductive health for individuals who identify as trans or non-binary and their partners.
  • I Wanna Know  Icon: External link offers information on sexual health for teens and young adults. This is where you will find the facts, the support, the resources to answer your questions, referrals, and get access to in-depth information about sexual health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), healthy relationships, and more.
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health  Icon: External link
    Resource and health services specific to the LGBT Community as identified by the CDC.
  • Safer Sex  Icon: External link
    Safer Sex Guide by Whitman-Walker Health and Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
  • Scarleteen - Sexual Education for The Real World  Icon: External link
    Scarleteen is an independent, grassroots sexuality and relationships education and support organization and website.
  • Take Charge of Your Sexual Health  Icon: External link
    Provided by The National Coalition for Sexual Health
  • What is PrEP?  Icon: External link
    If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about PrEP, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and learning about resources available to you head to

Shelter and Day Center Resources

Shelter services provide temporary residence for individuals and families who are temporarily displaced. Poverty, unemployment, and lack of affordable housing are the most commonly recognized causes of homelessness. If you or someone you know is in need of shelter please reach out.

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According to types of housing and shelter programs include:

  • Emergency shelters are often where people experiencing economic shock first turn for support through a wide range of services.
  • Transitional housing typically involves a temporary residence of up to 24 months with wrap-around services to help people stabilize their lives.
  • Permanent supportive housing offers safe and stable housing environments with voluntary and flexible supports and services to help people manage serious, chronic issues such as mental and substance use disorders.
  • Providing permanent supportive housing on a housing first basis—without requiring transitional steps or demonstrated sobriety—is effective for people experiencing chronic homelessness. People with a serious mental illness, substance use disorder, or co-occurring mental and substance use disorder have demonstrated similar or better housing stability and substance use, compared to those placed in housing with pre-requisites. Large-scale studies demonstrating the benefits include the Collaborative Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness (PDF | 1.5 MB) and HUD-VA Supportive Housing Program.
  • Arcadia Youth Services (253) 740-7189  Icon: External link
    Open daily, our overnight shelter allows clients 18 to 24 years old a safe, comfortable place to sleep and relax during the night. Beds, bed linens, and pillows are provided, and clients are given secure spaces in which to store their belongings. Snacks and water are on hand for clients who were not on-site for Drop-In meal services. ​ Last call for check in is 10:20pm, after which point no additional clients may enter the facility unless previously arranged with staff. All clients who are not attending Extended shelter are expected to be awake and packed up by 7:30am, and ready to leave the facility by 7:45am.
  • Benedict House (360) 473-2035  Icon: External link
    Benedict House provides emergency beds for 24 single homeless men who are currently homeless in Kitsap County. The shelter also provides 3 additional respite beds for those needing time to recover after medical treatment. Men interested in staying at Benedict House must apply through the Housing Solutions Center at 1201 Park Avenue, Bremerton, (360) 473-2035.
  • Community Youth Services Drop-in Center (253) 396-5800  Icon: External link
    This drop-in center serves young people ages 12 to 24 years old and also operates a shelter.
  • Family Housing Network (253) 682-3401 ext. 1  Icon: External link
    Family Housing Network serves low-income families in Pierce County and military veteran households in King, Pierce, Thurston, Snohomish, Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Cowlitz, Pacific or Wahkiakum counties. We provide assistance to house families experiencing homelessness, while helping to connect them with resources that maximize stability and self-sufficiency, in order to prevent future homelessness.
  • Federal Way Day Center (206) 323-6336  Icon: External link
    The Federal Way Day Center provides a welcoming space to adults who are homeless and vulnerably housed. The Day Center offers showers, laundry, computers, phones, mail reception services, space for meal preparation, and access to health care and social services. Case Management services are available Monday – Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. Active partnerships with Healthpoint, Mobile Medical Van, Valley Cities, and Sound Mental Health provide services on a monthly basis. All-Age hours: Monday – Friday: 10am – 3pm Hygiene items, limited clothing items, and snacks are generally available to guests visiting the day center. Family-Only hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays: 4pm – 7pm Families are welcome to visit during these hours to use the shower, laundry and kitchen facilities. Case Management services are also available during this time.
  • Katherine and Rita's House (253) 856-7716  Icon: External link
    Katherine’s and Rita’s Houses are transitional housing programs for homeless, adult women in recovery from substance abuse. We offer structured, family style living designed to assist women to return to independent living as productive members of the community. Residents may stay up to two years and each resident develops a personal success plan tailored to her individual needs. Katherine’s and Rita’s House staff team consists of a full-time Program Manager, Case Manager, and Life Skills Coordinator. The team’s focus is on creating a safe environment that supports healthy lifestyle changes and nurtures each resident’s potential. Resident Eligibility: Single Women, 18 Year of age and older, 30-60 days clean and sober from drugs/alcohol, Enrolled in an Out-Patient Treatment Program.
  • Mary's Place (253) 245-1026  Icon: External link
    We provide safe, inclusive shelter and services that support women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness. Across nine emergency family shelters in King County, we keep struggling families together, inside, and safe when they have no place else to go providing shelter, services, resources, community, and hope. Basic needs are met each day: meals, showers, and laundry facilities–children are connected with schools. In the evening, families in shelter have dinner, do homework, socialize, and prepare for the week ahead. Resources are offered each day for housing, employment, wellness, and financial needs.
  • Nativity House (253) 502-2780  Icon: External link
    Nativity House is the largest, most comprehensive facility in Pierce County serving low-income and homeless adult men and women. Our goal is to provide for the basic needs of adult individuals experiencing homelessness, and offer concrete pathways to permanent housing and self-sufficiency. The new Nativity House combines the services previously offered by three separate Homeless Adult Services (HAS) programs: Hospitality Kitchen, Nativity House, and Tacoma Avenue Shelter. Services are provided 365 days per year and include hot meals, day shelter, overnight shelter, mental health and chemical dependency assessments and referrals, rapid re-housing, access to mainstream public benefits such as Medicare and SSI, and job training. The new Nativity House also includes a new program, the Nativity House Apartments, which provides 50 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless single adults with disabilities. If you are looking for information regarding the Nativity House Apartments, click here. If you are looking for information regarding the Nativity House Overnight Shelter, click here. Guests are welcome to come in for day shelter and other services when the doors open at 7:00am daily.
  • Oasis Youth Center (253) 671-2838  Icon: External link
    Oasis Youth Center is the only drop-in and support center dedicated to the needs of LGBTQ youth ages 11-24 in Pierce County. We are a youth-adult partnership in which youth and adults come together for shared teaching learning and action! Oasis is committed to creating a safe, affirming space for LGBTQ youth to be proud of who they are with the encouragement they need to become healthy, productive and fully participating members of the community. Supported by a team of dozens of staff and volunteers, Oasis offers an amazing array of activities to more than 500 youth annually.
  • Orion Center (206) 482-9734  Icon: External link
    Ages: Drop In: 12-24 I Overnight Shelter: 18-24 Overnight shelter is open every night from 8:00pm-7:30am. Call 206-482-9734 to get in touch.
  • Rosie's Shelter (360) 943-0780 ext.186  Icon: External link
    Rosie’s Shelter is an emergency overnight shelter for young people 18-24 years old. It is our intention that the shelter be as low-barrier as possible in order to provide as accessible a program as possible for young people who need a warm, dry, and safe place to sleep at night. The only thing a young person needs to stay in shelter is any form of identification that has the person’s name and birthdate on it. This does not need to be a state issued photo ID, it can be a copy of medical, school, DOC, records that provide a birthdate. If young person does not have any of the above, Overnight Shelter or Rosie’s Place staff can assist them accessing those records.
  • Salvation Army Kent (253) 852-4983  Icon: External link
    For those facing extreme heat, unbearable cold, wet weather, or other dangerous elements on the street, each Salvation Army homeless shelter is a welcome respite featuring a safe place to eat, sleep, and shower at no cost.
  • Salvation Army Tacoma (253) 572-8452  Icon: External link
    The Salvation Army assists families in need by providing food, housing and utility assistance. Best of all, these programs enable parents to stay with their children, even when placed in emergency shelters. For information about assistance programs in your area, call (253) 572-8452.
  • Salvation Army Seattle (206) 767-3150  Icon: External link
    For families and individuals looking to escape extreme weather or just wanting a safe, quiet place to spend the night, emergency shelters provide a nutritious meal, a warm bed and a clean shower to those in need.
  • Tacoma Rescue Mission (253) 383-4493 ext. 1106  Icon: External link
    Our Men’s Shelter provides safe overnight shelter and warm, nutritious meals to over 1,400 homeless men in our community each year. Thanks to generous community members like you, we offer holistic case management, Coordinated Entry, housing resources, employment services, life-skills courses and adult basic education to anyone who walks through our doors. Located at 425 South Tacoma Way, our Men’s shelter is open to single men experiencing homelessness. Please call 253-383-4493 ext. 1106 or email for more information. Shelter opens at 3:30pm each day to sign-up for a bed. Roll call for guests will be at 6:30pm.
  • Tahoma Indian Center (253) 593-2707  Icon: External link
    Open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm, The Tahoma Indian Center is located on the east side of Tacoma, Puyallup Reservation, the Tahoma Indian Center has met the basic needs of low-income and homeless Urban Native Peoples for more than 20 years in a safe, warm, peaceful and drug- and alcohol-free environment. The purpose of the Center is to restore and sustain the dignity and culture of Urban Native Americans in Pierce County.
  • The Rainbow Center (253) 383-2318  Icon: External link
    Through education, advocacy, and celebration, Rainbow Center expands resources and safe space for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, two-spirit, and allied (LGBTQ2SA) community.

Vein Care

For individuals who inject drugs, vein care is an essential component of harm reduction.

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Video 2 in a 5 part series, provided by ANKORS on safer injecting. This video covers planning and things individuals may want to educate themselves on. Scroll to 2:45 for vein care injection information.

Vein Care aims to decrease the damage done to veins for individuals who inject drugs by providing them with tools and education.

  • Femoral Injecting  Icon: PDF
    In the Groin, Third Edition is Provided by Exchange Supplies find this and more on
  • Finding a Vein  Icon: PDF
    Provided by Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI). More information can be found at
  • Sharp Shooters Booklet  Icon: PDF
    This booklet provided by CATIE (2008) covers topics from Vein Care to Avoiding Infections. Vein Care specifics can be found on page 6.
  • The Safer Injecting Handbook  Icon: PDF
    The Safer Injecting Handbook is provided by Exchange Supplies it is the complete handbook to the risks associated with injecting and how to avoid them. This and more can be found on the following website
  • Vein Care for Injection Drug Users  Icon: PDF
    Provided by BC Harm Reduction Strategies and Services (HRSS).
  • CRA - Better Vein Care and Safer Injection Guide  Icon: External link
    Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA) offers an in-depth guide (complete with images) to better vein care and safer injection. Available in 5 different languages and as a download, poster, or set of cards which can be ordered directly on Chicago Recovery Alliances website.
  • HRC - Finding the Vein  Icon: External link
    Provided by Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC). Find that Vein informs you of the levels of risk for where you may be injecting.
  • HRC - Taking Care of your Veins  Icon: External link
    Provided by Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC). Taking Care of your Veins reminds injection drug users to rotate your spot to allow healing time.
  • How to Find a Vein  Icon: External link
    Learn how to find a vein using a tourniquet.
  • Safer Injection Demonstration  Icon: External link
    Video 4 in a series on safer injecting. In this video, we demonstrate the steps to do a drug injection. This 5-part video series presents vein care tips for people who use injection drugs.

What is Harm Reduction

A public health strategy aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use including, but not limited to, safer injection for drug users, managed drug use, and for some abstinence. Strategies are focused on meeting participants “where they are at” in an effort to gain attainable results for each individual.

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Examples of Harm Reduction:

  • Designated Drivers
  • Needle Exchange Programs
  • Seat Belts
  • Speed Limits
  • All Forms of Birth Control
  • Sunscreen
  • Naloxone/Narcan


For individuals who inject drugs, skincare is an essential component of harm reduction. When a needle is being inserted into the skin, it leaves a hole that needs time to properly heal. Ensuring skin is kept clean and dry whenever possible as well as rotating injection sites and keeping any open wounds properly bandaged is always a best practice.

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7 Steps to Effective Wound Care Management

This video is provided by Cardinal Health. Please note this video is intended for educational purposes only and it is always best practice to visit medical professional or wound care specialist for wound care management.

If you are experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms due to wound care-related issues please seek medical attention:

  • Fever or Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Little to no Urination
  • Odor from Wound
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Swelling of Limbs
  • Non-Healing after 2 Weeks 

It is important to remember abscesses do not go away on their own. If you are unsure how to get care talk to someone about your best option. If left untreated it could turn into a serious medical condition.