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ODMHSAS Unveils Harm Reduction Campaign With Life-Saving Vending Machines

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services launched a new Harm Reduction campaign this week to bring life-saving resources to all Oklahomans, including the nearly 300,000 that report a substance use disorder in our state.

Oklahomans will soon notice eye-catching vending machines containing Naloxone and Fentanyl Test Strip Kits in highly trafficked areas in their communities. The campaign kicks off with the distribution of more than 40 unique vending machines placed in strategic zip code locations where overdose prevalence is high, making this the largest-scale initiative in the U.S.

Now the leading cause of death for people in the U.S. under 50, the Harm Reduction campaign seeks to reduce the number of accidental overdoses in Oklahoma through education, awareness, and access to resources like Naloxone and Fentanyl Test Strips.

In 2020 alone, drug overdoses increased by 31%, with nearly 92,000 lives lost that year. More than 70% of these overdoses were driven by opioids, including synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, binding to opioid receptors to reverse and block the effects of opioids. Fentanyl Test Strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in various types of substances. Both are available to Oklahomans statewide free of charge.

“Our hope is that people are educated about substance use disorders and that they understand what free, live-saving resources are available within reach,” Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges said. “We believe each Oklahoma household can benefit from having essential tools like these Naloxone and Fentanyl Test Strip Kits on hand, as most of us know a friend or loved one who has been affected by accidental overdose.”

The CDC reports that nearly 40% of overdoses had a bystander present who could have intervened, conveying the importance of ensuring all Oklahomans have access to these life-saving resources.

While nearly 300,000 Oklahomans report having a substance use disorder, the statistics show that about 90% of individuals who receive evidence-based treatment report they get better.

“Substance use disorder is a chronic, treatable disease that individuals can recover from and go on to live healthy lives when provided with effective tools, which is why it’s critical for us to provide free and easy access to treatment in the state,” Slatton-Hodges continued.

The campaign launch coincides with National Prevention Week, May 7-13.

In addition to the vending machines, Oklahomans have access to free Naloxone and Fentanyl Test Strip kits online as well. For more information and access to resources, visit okimready.org.

Bonnie Campo

Sr. Director of Public Relations

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