Kent County Health Department's outreach van connects vulnerable residents to needed harm reduction services
The U.S. is experiencing the most significant substance use and overdose epidemic it has ever faced, exacerbated by the recent worldwide pandemic, and driven by the proliferation of highly potent synthetic opioids (containing fentanyl or fentanyl analogs) and animal tranquilizers (like xylazine) into many types of drugs (including stimulants and counterfeit prescription pills). Individuals with a Substance Use Disorder are at much higher risk of death, injury, and disease. (samhsa.gov)
Harm reduction is effective in addressing the public health epidemic as well as infectious disease and other harms associated with drug use. Kent County Health Department's (KCHD) Recovery in Motion Program set out to reach local residents by starting the “No Harm in Helping, One Human at a Time!” project, a mobile service that aims to enhance and expand harm reduction efforts related to substance use disorders.
Harm reduction is an approach of practical strategies that reduce the effects or harm of drug use and dependence.
Local Addictions Authority
The mobile outreach project was conceived of to improve service offerings, ease access to care, minimize adverse consequences, decrease associated risky behaviors, and put an emphasis on overall health and wellbeing to underserved populations greatly impacted by substance use.
KCHD's Recovery in Motion (RIM) Peers used the mobile outreach van to visit high-risk underserved areas in Kent County. These locations were determined by the local Overdose Fatality Review Board to be “hot spots” where most fatal and non-fatal overdoses occurred. Peers provided non-judgmental outreach to individuals with lived experience, offering harm reduction case management, overdose education, Naloxone distribution, wound care education/supplies, safe sex education/kits, transportation assistance, rapid Hep-C testing and HIV testing, education, and treatment referrals.
Participants could also receive a grocery store gift card based on objective indicators (having clean urine tests, coming to appointments/group, etc.) This behavior therapy-based strategy provided a tangible incentive to individuals with substance use disorders .
From January-May of 2023, 71 individuals enrolled in case management and peer support services through the 'No Harm in Helping' project. All were referred to additional services such as mental health, recovery housing, intensive outpatient, medical, and/or transportation. 576 Narcan kits (or 1152 doses) were dispensed along with educational materials and training. 54 safe-sex kits and 53 wound care kits with educational materials were dispensed. 100 percent of participants surveyed reported that the services they received met their needs.
To learn more about this ongoing project, contact Brett firstname.lastname@example.org, 410.299.5956
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