New York City health officials have unveiled the city’s first vending machine for drug addicts, featuring anti-overdose meds and free drug paraphernalia.
The big blue box vending machine was installed in Brooklyn on Monday, offering Naloxone to drug users who have overdosed and instructions on how to use the drug.
The vending machine also offers hygiene kits and safe sex kits for anyone with a New York City ZIP code.
According to officials, similar machines in the U.S., Europe, and Australia have proven to help reduce overdose rates.
“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 in a statement.
“But we will continue to fight to keep our neighbors and loved ones alive with care, compassion, and action,” Vasan added.
“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.”
As Fox News reports:
Overdose deaths in New York City are at historic highs. 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 deadly synthetic opioid, was involved in 80% of all overdose deaths, according to the NYC Department of Health.
Officials said there were 1,370 confirmed overdose deaths in the first half of 2022. They estimate 2022 will be the deadliest year on record for overdoses if that trend continues.
The vending machine is designed to curb that trend by giving addicts free access to Naloxone, drug-test strips that detect fentanyl, and “Safer Smoking” kits that come with a pipe, mouthpiece, and lip balm for smoking crack and crystal meth.
The machine also comes equipped with “Safer Sniffing” kits, condoms, tampons, nicotine gum, and first-aid packages, according to the New York Post.
The Brooklyn vending machine is the first of four machines that will be installed in neighborhoods that data shows were hit hardest by the opioid crisis, officials said. The vending machine will be hosted by the nonprofit group Serving the Underserved (S: U.S.).
“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,” said Perry Perlmutter, interim president, and CEO at Services for the UnderServed.
“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,” Perlmutter added.
“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.”