Vending machine providing free birth control and overdose prevention products debuts in Brooklyn

bnew

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By
Brittany Kriegstein
Published Jun 5, 2023


A man demonstrating use of a bright blue vending machine, and a detailed look at its contents



Brittany Kriegstein

A new vending machine in Brownsville, Brooklyn is attracting lots of attention – but not because it sells snacks and drinks.

Instead, compartments in the shiny blue device on the corner of Decatur Street and Broadway are stocked with naloxone kits, fentanyl test strips, birth control packs and baggies containing tools for safer smoking of substances like crack cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. And it’s all free: residents just have to enter their zip code and make a selection.

The machine is the first of its kind in New York City, designed to help reduce drug overdose deaths and mitigate other crises by giving residents free, 24/7 access to lifesaving equipment, resources and information.

“This is more than just a vending machine – it’s a gateway to services and support and recovery,” said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is running the pilot program in partnership with the longstanding harm-reduction and social services nonprofit Services for the UnderServed.

Three more machines, which cost about $11,000 each, are slated for installation in other areas hard-hit by drug use and overdose deaths. Vasan hopes to see the program expand even further.

“We’re very optimistic that this could expand beyond four,” he said. “This is not a be-all, end-all in our fight; this is one more arrow in a quiver, and we need lots of arrows in that quiver to respond to this ever-growing crisis. So I’d love to see this expand as far and as widely as possible, so that it’s available everywhere.”

In addition to the goods it offers, the Brownsville vending machine displays QR codes to help people look up services and resources in the community. Its location was determined by an analysis of overdose deaths in the neighborhood, Vasan explained.

“This is just your first stop on your way to hopefully getting care, and getting housing, and getting all you need from S:US or any other organization in New York City,” said Rebecca Linn-Walton, chief strategy officer for Services for the UnderServed. “It shouldn’t be luck or privilege that gets you into services. It should be easily accessible to everyone we know and love in New York.”

The city is experiencing a spike in overdose deaths. According to data from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2021 set the record for the most overdose fatalities, with 2,668 recorded citywide. In comparison, 2020 saw 2,103 overdose deaths. About 80% of those deaths each year were caused by fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid up to 50 times stronger than heroin.

Citywide numbers for 2022 are still being calculated. But with 1,370 deaths recorded in the first half of the year, it’s on pace to beat even the record high from 2021.

In Vasan’s view, a problem so pervasive needed a creative solution that can put lifesaving fentanyl overdose antidotes like naxolone – also known by the brand name Narcan – into the hands of as many New Yorkers as possible.

“Vending machines are a well-known entity, they’re a well-known device, people stop and look and see what’s in there,” he said. “I think they’ll be surprised to find that this is a public health vending machine. I think that’s a great thing: it will start conversations, hopefully that get people talking about our overdose crisis and what they can do to engage.”

As part of Monday’s ribbon-cutting, Elan Quashie, director of the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, demonstrated how the machine works in real time by placing its inaugural order.

Seconds after entering his area code, he held a small blue naxolone kit, complete with how-to-use instructions.

The Big Apple isn’t the first place to try the vending machine tactic.

The first machine was installed in Copenhagen, Denmark, Vasan says. Since then, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Cincinnati have unveiled their own versions. Data on how well they worked was not immediately available.

“We have to address the root causes of substance use, not just the needs of people who are using now,” Vasan said. “How do we prevent people from using in the first place? This is why we made overdose response a core pillar of our mental health plan for the city, to formally bring these together.”
 

bnew

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Health Department Launches NYC’s First Public Health Vending Machine​

The Brooklyn vending machine is the latest tool to reduce stigma and barriers to services in the fight to reduce the number of overdose deaths by 2025

Items available for free include naloxone, safer-sex kits and toiletries.


June 5, 2023 — The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has unveiled the city’s first public health vending machine, hosted by Services for the Underserved (S:US), to promote 24/7 access to lifesaving harm reduction supplies conveniently and anonymously to meet a goal outlined in the mental health plan.

Public health vending machines are an innovative, low-barrier strategy to reduce stigma and reach New Yorkers who may not already be connected to harm reduction services. Similar machines in the United States, Europe, and Australia have demonstrated success at reducing rates of overdose and infectious disease.

“We are in the midst of an overdose crisis in our city, which is taking a fellow New Yorker from us every three hours and is a major cause of falling life expectancy in NYC,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “But we will continue to fight to keep our neighbors and loved ones alive with care, compassion and action. Public health vending machines are an innovative way to meet people where they are and to put life-saving tools like naloxone in their hands. We’ll leave no stone unturned until we reverse the trends in opioid-related deaths in our city.”

S:US will oversee the vending machine’s operation at 1676 Broadway in Brooklyn, outside of a supportive housing facility run by the organization. The machine will stock a variety of health and wellness supplies, such as naloxone (Narcan®), hygiene kits, and safer sex kits. S:US will restock the machine and include items that meet the needs of the local community alongside harm reduction supplies.

Anyone can use the machine - individuals will simply enter their New York City ZIP code followed by the numerical code listed below the product. Instructions and contact information for support will be posted on the machine in English and Spanish.

Overdose deaths in New York City have reached historically high levels. In 2021, there were 2,668 overdose deaths in NYC, compared with 2,103 in 2020. In 2021, 84% of overdose deaths involved an opioid. Fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, was involved in 80% of all overdose deaths. There were 1,370 confirmed overdose death in the first half of 2022. If current trends continue, 2022 will be the deadliest year on record for overdose.

As part of the Care, Community, Action plan released in March, the city has committed to supporting people at risk of a fatal overdose and a goal of reducing overdose deaths by 15% by 2025. Increasing access to free naloxone is part of the City’s plan to reduce overdose deaths, focusing on populations with the highest rates of overdose death and risk of experiencing or witnessing an overdose.

"This public health vending machine will be a game-changer for this part of East Brooklyn. With it, we can provide free and easy access to life-saving tools that prevent overdoses, infections, and other health risks associated with substance use. The machine also provides essential items that can improve the quality of life of all New Yorkers, regardless of their income, insurance, or housing status,” said Perry Perlmutter, Interim President & CEO at Services for the UnderServed. “By installing machines like this one in strategic locations, we are fulfilling our commitment to reducing harm, promoting wellness, and supporting recovery for our most vulnerable communities."

The installation and launch of the city’s first public health vending machine marks a successful step towards meeting the goal of at least four machines outlined in the plan. Additional machines are slated to go live in the next year.

In addition to the vending machines, New Yorkers can obtain free naloxone by:

  • Contacting one of these community-based programs
  • Visiting a pharmacy participating in the NYC Emergency Overdose Rescue Kit Program and asking the pharmacist for a free “Emergency Overdose Rescue Kit."
  • Attending a virtual training with the Health Department and receiving a kit by mail.
    • See upcoming training dates here under “Upcoming Naloxone Trainings”
 

jilla82

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philly has these vending machines?
closest city with a major drug problem...
I could have said San Francisco (they already have the machines) but its far away

NYC seems to be moving in the direction of San Fran culturally
 

Dwayne_Taylor

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:lupe:Lol do those machines carry rolling papers?

I thought most places had birth control vending machines already....never saw them for drugs tho.
 

bnew

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closest city with a major drug problem...
I could have said San Francisco (they already have the machines) but its far away

NYC seems to be moving in the direction of San Fran culturally

how is their major drug problem related to the way NYC chooses to address addiction?

seems like san francisco installed one public vending machine two months ago. has it worsen the drug crisis there?



 

jilla82

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how is their major drug problem related to the way NYC chooses to address addiction?

seems san franciso like installed one public vending machine two months ago. has it worsen the drug crisis there?




lulz

im talking about the attitude towards drug users...
...being accepting *may* lead to the shyt getting worse

just like what were seeing with crime.

there is truth in the broken windows theory
 

bnew

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lulz

im talking about the attitude towards drug users...
...being accepting *may* lead to the shyt getting worse

just like what were seeing with crime.

there is truth in the broken windows theory


snippet:

Now, Northeastern researchers say they have debunked the “broken windows theory.” In research published in the Annual Review of Criminology and in Social Science & Medicine, they have found that disorder in a neighborhood doesn’t cause people to break the law, commit more crimes, have a lower opinion of their neighborhoods, or participate in dangerous or unhealthy behavior.

“The body of evidence for the broken windows theory does not stand, in terms of how disorder impacts individuals,” said Daniel T. O’Brien, associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern.

The methodology behind the findings

O’Brien and his research colleagues—Brandon Welsh, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Northeastern, and doctoral student Chelsea Farrell—conducted two studies. One, published in Annual Review of Criminology, focused on whether disorder affects crime. The other, published in Social Science & Medicine, focused on the impact of disorder on public health.

O’Brien outlined the findings of both studies in an article published in April by the Scholars Strategy Network, an organization that connects journalists, policymakers, and civic leaders with researchers.

Northeastern University researchers follow up on 80-year-old study of crime prevention program that made a shocking discovery

They wanted to see if the “broken windows theory” holds up. They sought answers to two questions: Does disorder cause crime, and does it have an impact on public health?

The researchers discovered that disorder in a neighborhood does not cause its residents to commit more crime. They found “no consistent evidence that disorder induces higher levels of aggression or makes residents feel more negative toward the neighborhood,” they wrote in their paper in the Annual Review of Criminology.

They also did not find that these signs of physical and social disrepair discourage people from exercising outside or encourage people to engage in unprotected sex.

However, the researchers did find a connection between disorder and mental health. They found that people who live in neighborhoods with more graffiti, abandoned buildings, and other such attributes experience more mental health problems and are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. But they say that this greater likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol is associated with mental health, and is not directly caused by disorder.

The “broken windows theory” was developed by criminologist George L. Kelling and political scientist James Q. Wilson, who wrote a 7,000-word article in The Atlantic in 1982 in which they argued that maintaining order and preventing crime go hand in hand. Kelling died on May 15 at the age of 83.

O’Brien and his colleagues used a procedure called meta-analysis to conduct their research. This means that they searched online research databases to find studies to include in their research, tested and recorded the results of each study, and pooled all those results together in order to draw a conclusion about the “broken windows theory.”

The researchers analyzed nearly 300 studies that examined the effects of at least one element of neighborhood disorder (say, graffiti or public drunkenness) on at least one outcome at the individual level (say, committing a violent crime or using drugs).

They then tested the effect that disorder was found to have on residents in each study. In the crime study, they tested to what extent disorder led people to commit crime, made them more fearful of crime in their neighborhoods, and affected their perceptions of their neighborhoods. In the health study, they tested whether disorder affected whether people exercised outdoors, experienced mental health problems, or engaged in risky behavior, including abusing drugs and alcohol or having unprotected sex.

O’Brien says that his team took into account the research methods used in each study in order to assess whether its design led researchers to find more evidence for the “broken windows theory” than there actually was.

1400_Dan-OBrien_embed_.jpg

Dan O’Brien. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

The Northeastern researchers say that they found two widespread flaws in how past studies that found evidence for the broken windows theory were designed. These flaws, they say, led to conclusions that overstated the impact that elements of neighborhood disorder had on crime and health.

The first flaw, they say, is that many studies didn’t account for important variables, including the income levels of households in the neighborhoods that were analyzed. O’Brien says that past research has found that the more poverty there is in a neighborhood, the more crime and disorder occurs there. His team’s meta-analysis revealed that the studies that didn’t account for socio-economic status found a stronger connection between disorder and crime than those that did account for the income levels of residents.

The second flaw, the say, relates to how researchers measured the levels of disorder in neighborhoods. O’Brien says that many studies evaluated disorder by surveying residents who were asked to assess how well their neighborhoods are maintained and either whether they worried about crime or suffered from mental health problems.

 
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