Before the end of 2022, New York City residents should be able to access naloxone, sterile syringes and other harm reduction supplies from a handful of public vending machines—for free. It’s a new approach from the city, where drug overdoses are continuing to rise, especially for Black residents.
As recreational drugs like cocaine are increasingly cut with fentanyl, a movement has sprung up to prevent deaths in nightclubs. Marie is one of the many harm reduction workers helping distribute testing strips in leisure spaces. Fentanyl testing strips as well as the opioid-reversal drug naloxone (commonly known as Narcan) are becoming the sine qua non of the party scene, distributed everywhere cultural denizens hang out: nightclubs, art galleries, downtown streetwear stores, even housewarming parties in Brooklyn.
Louise Vincent figures her group, the North Carolina Survivors Union, saves at least 1,690 lives a year. The harm-reduction and syringe service program in Greensboro, N.C., distributes the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone to people who use drugs. Research suggests this approach is effective, since people who use drugs are most likely to witness an overdose and administer naloxone.
We need to prioritise naloxone supply in high-risk settings if we’re going to properly tackle drug-related deaths, says Mohammed Fessal. Proactive responses are vital, and naloxone supply must be a crucial priority in efforts to reduce the death rate. At Change Grow Live, a key focus in our harm reduction work over the last five years has been increasing the availability of naloxone to those within structured treatment, as well as their family, friends, and wider network.
(See page 13 of linked PDF for article)
The Constellations session Staying Alive: Naloxone Action!, chaired by DDN, explored the vital – and often unpaid – work peers were doing to get naloxone into the hands of people who need it. Drug-related deaths were ‘needless and avoidable’, he stated, and the most important people he worked with were those with ‘lived and living experience of addiction’. Naloxone provided a ‘wonderful opportunity to keep people alive. It’s not the whole solution, but it’s part of the solution.’
(See page 12 of link for article)
This month, the United States will surpass a once-unimaginable milestone: more than 100,000 people have died of an overdose in the past year, the most ever recorded. In the midst of this crisis, harm reduction programs are preventing even more overdose deaths by making available the easy-to-use antidote naloxone to people who use drugs.