Mail-order Supplies are Free and Confidential
Over the past decade, Wisconsin experienced a staggering 900% increase in opioid-involved overdose deaths. Nationally, more than 100,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose this past year alone, with rates of overdose deaths rising most quickly among Indigenous and Black communities. Indigenous communities in Wisconsin experience the highest rates of fatal overdosewhen compared to any racial group in the state, and rose to 54.4 per 100,000 in 2020, twice the rate experienced by the general population.
To address the overdose crisis in Wisconsin, Gwayakobimaadiziwin Bad River Harm Reduction and NEXT Distro are launching a new program that provides free harm reduction supplies to individuals in Wisconsin via mail, in discrete packaging that does not indicate content. As part of this service, launched in December 2022, people can request intramuscular naloxone (and intra-nasal naloxone, if available) directly through NEXT Distro’s website nextdistro.org/wisconsin, as well as fentanyl test strips. Organizations in Wisconsin can also order free cards that advertise the mail-based service to individuals through NEXT Distro’s site: nextdistro.org/promotion.
The initiative addresses barriers to care common among people in rural and Indigenous communities that contribute to disparities in overdose deaths, but anyone in Wisconsin can access this mail-based service.
Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, including respiratory depression. As fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids are found increasingly throughout the illicit drug supply, it is crucial that people who use drugs such as crack, cocaine, pills, and methamphetamines also have access to naloxone and other harm reduction supplies.
Naloxone is available as both an injectable and as a nasal spray, commonly known by the brand-name Narcan. Injectable naloxone, or intramuscular naloxone, is easy-to-use, effective at reversing an opioid overdose, and costs less than Narcan. Community members can access free virtual training on how to use intramuscular naloxone through NEXT Distro’s website.
“We started our community-based harm reduction program to keep our relatives, friends and neighbors from dying from opioid overdoses. We keep doing it because harm reduction is a life-sustaining practice rooted in our traditional values of love, respect and forgiveness,” said Philomena Kebec, Economic Development Coordinator for the Bad River Tribe. “It’s a hand extended to people who are actively using – providing essential support and validation – and it provides engagement and workforce opportunities for people with lived and living experience using drugs.”
Based out of the Bad River Reservation, Bad River Harm Reduction utilizes evidence-based harm reduction interventions to provide compassionate care to people who use drugs in rural and tribal communities across the state. In addition to providing harm reduction supplies, they offer peer support, referrals for services, and overdose reversal training to community members.
“Through our innovative mail-based model, NEXT’s program is responsible for over 12,000 lives saved in other parts of the United States. We are looking forward to expanding this free, discrete service to support Wisconsinites in obtaining naloxone to protect their loved ones.” said Jamie Favaro, Founder and Executive Director of NEXT Distro.
“Making rural and tribal communities a priority in this program is vital because of the disproportionate impact of the overdose crisis in these communities, and the lack of services in these areas,” said Paul Krupski, director of Opioid Initiatives for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). “This new and innovative way of sending harm reduction supplies directly to their homes improves access to harm reduction, which is more important now than ever. DHS is happy to support Bad River Harm Reduction and NEXT Distro in this effort.
The new initiative is in part funded by Vital Strategies, a public health organization whose Overdose Prevention Program is working in seven states to strengthen evidence-based interventions and drug policies to reduce overdose deaths.
“We are grateful to partner with Bad River and NEXT Distro to increase access to lifesaving naloxone to indigenous and rural communities,” said Adrienne Hurst, Senior Technical Advisor at Vital Strategies. “As we work towards a time when everyone can expect equitable health services that allow them to define their own health goals with dignity, this initiative will get much needed harm reduction supplies to people who use drugs and their families.”
To learn more about NEXT Distro’s work in Wisconsin and available resources, visit https://nextdistro.org/wisconsin
About Bad River Harm Reduction
Since 2015, Gwayakobimaadiziwin Bad River Needle Exchange has offered harm reduction services and supplies for people who use drugs in our community. We endeavor to confront the discrimination endured by people who use drugs and advocate for more humane law and policy. Gwayakobimaadiziwin Bad River Harm Reduction is a program of the Bad River Tribe; we provide harm reduction support for people who use drugs in Ashland, Bayfield, Price and Iron Counties in northern Wisconsin via peer-support delivery and to individuals throughout the state through mail order. Our practice is rooted in the seven teachings of the Ojibwe: respect, humility, courage, honesty, wisdom, truth, and love. For more information: see Gwayakobimaadiziwin Bad River Harm Reduction or contact Philomena Kebec at (715) 682-7111.
About NEXT Distro
Founded in 2017, NEXT Distro is an online and mail-based harm reduction program. NEXT provides mail-based supplies and support to people at risk of opioid overdose who are unable to access in-person services due to their lack of proximity to a pre-existing harm reduction program. NEXT is a national organization that partners with in-state entities to distribute supplies such as naloxone.
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our overdose prevention program works to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to create equitable and sustainable reductions in overdose deaths. Work across seven U.S. States is supported by funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Overdose Prevention Initiative, launched in 2018, and by targeted investments from other partners.
Tony Newman firstname.lastname@example.org; 646-335-5384