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Fentanyl users get free smoking gear in some cities. Now there's pushback.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - For years at this downtown public health clinic, staffers have given drug users small glass pipes along with sterile needles and other supplies. The strategy: Users might choose to smoke street drugs - limiting infected wounds and the spread of diseases that come with injecting.

Some public health advocates and drug users believe smoking fentanyl - the street opioid fueling thousands of deaths - may also lessen chances of a fatal overdose compared with injecting the drug. Scott, a user picking up supplies on a recent weeknight, now smokes fentanyl more than he uses needles because injections caused his hands to swell and damaged his veins. He said he overdosed twice when injecting fentanyl but never while smoking.

"I understand why people think it's enabling users," said Scott, 38, a former coal miner who spoke on the condition of being identified by first name only to openly discuss his addiction. "It's actually helping more than people think."


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