Presenting author: Tasha Turner-Bicknell
Presenting author biography:
As a member of Harm Reduction Ohio board of directors, I advocate for policy change and work to build capacity for harm reduction services in the state of Ohio. An RN providing direct services to at-risk populations including: people who inject drugs, sex workers, and people experiencing homelessness.
Strength in Solidarity: Responsive Programs to Meet Changing Client Needs - Vending Machines, Safer Smoking Kits, and Mobile Units
Tasha Turner-Bicknell, Suzanne Bachmeyer
The unprecedented surge of overdose deaths in the United States has challenged public health entities to evaluate the effectiveness of current programs and search the research evidence for new ways to reach people who use drugs. Specifically black, indigenous, and people of color who use drugs remain over-represented in nationwide overdose deaths and under-represented in harm reduction outreach. Caracole, located in southwest Ohio, employs innovative, evidence-based techniques to remain responsive to the needs and preferences of people who use drugs in our community.
By utilizing a harm reduction vending machine, providing safer smoking kits, and developing mobile units we are expanding our reach in the community to engage individuals previously not captured by existing harm reduction services, including, people who smoke drugs, use stimulants, and/or are unable or unwilling to attend syringe service programing.
In this presentation, we will discuss how structural racism has impacted the uptake of harm reduction services and how harm reduction vending machines and mobile units can reach marginalized populations that have been historically reluctant to access harm reduction services. We will identify the evidence to support harm reduction vending machines and mobile units and discuss the planning, implementation, and ongoing evaluation of our programs.
It is essential for harm reduction programing to continue to innovate and respond to the dynamic needs of people who use drugs. Expanding harm reduction services beyond syringe service programming will be essential moving forward or we risk falling short of our mission to recognize and advocate for the human rights and dignity of people who use drugs. Future work should focus on leveraging dispensing machines and mobile units to offer additional health services to vulnerable, often difficult to reach populations.