Next was inspired by Tracey Helton
Next Harm Reduction was inspired by the work of Tracey Helton, author of The Big Fix and outspoken advocate for proactive drug user health resources and expanded naloxone distribution. During the 2016 National Harm Reduction Conference, Tracey gave a plenary talk called Radical Harm Reduction: Our Only Choice is Civil Disobedience. She discussed her work mailing naloxone to individuals across the United States that she had met through online recovery forums. Tracey’s work was startlingly simple yet effective. How could her work be scaled up and implemented across 50 states? This question led to Next Harm Reduction.
With Tracey’s blessing, Jamie Favaro approached the New York State Department of Health in 2017 about developing an online and mail-based model of syringe access.
some history about our name
Originally, this work was incorporated as an LLC under the name “NEXT Distro” (Needle EXchange Technology). Jamie assumed that folks would be lining up to help pay for our work and was interested in getting out from under the non-profit industrial complex. Little did she understand, folks who invest money in LLCs want a return on their investment and all NEXT Distro could promise was lives saved. Shortly after, we launched a GoFundMe to start supporting costs related to shipping, program supplies, and video equipment for video-based tutorials. The money raised helped us through the first several months of operations and GoFundMe donations continue to support shipping expenses.
Thankfully, a small group of fabulous foundations showed interest in supporting our work. We incorporated as a not-for-profit organization called Next Harm Reduction in 2018. Our syringe access work continues to operate under the name NEXT Distro although not under the LLC. Just know, if you near Next Harm Reduction, that’s us too.
Supply distribution through next distro
NEXT began mailing supplies in February, 2017. Since this time, Next has received requests from across 49 states. We spend approximately $1,200-$1,600 per month on shipping costs alone. (Please note that we are always in need of individual contributions.)
Next Harm Reduction’s syringe access branch NEXT Distro is a legally operating syringe exchange program waivered by the New York State Department of Health. We mail everything that an individual would expect to receive when they walk in to a brick & mortar syringe exchange program including sterile hypodermic syringes, sharps containers, alcohol pads, adhesive bandages, safer sex supplies. We also provide supplementary supplies including antibiotic ointment, fentanyl test strips, and epsom salts. In addition to harm reduction supplies we include materials on drug user health, wound identification and care, family planning, and overdose prevention. Unless there are specific circumstances, NEXT Distro does not mail in New York City thanks to the excellent harm reduction resources that exist within the five boroughs.
Building next naloxone
While in the process of building out the NEXT Distro platform, Next Harm Reduction registered as an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program in New York State. We called this project Next Naloxone and housed it at www.naloxoneforall.org
A host of online opioid overdose trainings are available on the internet and some counties are working to get mail-based naloxone distribution in their area and we want to show support for their work such as Licking, Ohio. For-profit companies such as Fiduscript are working to ensure naloxone is available through the mail utilizing health insurance. Next Harm Reduction is the first statewide online and mail-based naloxone distribution project that provides free naloxone to communities impacted by drug use.
In the first two months of operation, Next Naloxone received over 400 requests for naloxone across 43 states. We envision the Next Naloxone website as a hub and spoke model. We’ve partnered with organizations such as the DOPE Project and Rebel Recovery to get supplies out into their requested states. We’re now working to find community partners interested in distributing naloxone for free by mail in their own state.
Building the next distro platform
Building the online platform to house NEXT Distro has been complex and fabulous. From day one we’ve been working from main organizing tenants:
The security and privacy of folks to use the NEXT Distro site is paramount. Without privacy we can’t build trust.
In-person services are best. The NEXT Distro platform will work to demystify in-person syringe exchange programs and support linkages to them.
People who use drugs and the harm reduction community as a whole will be involved in the leadership, evaluation, and roll-out of NEXT Distro.
System users should see individuals that look and talk like them are reflected through the site.
People in different areas of the United States use different drugs, have different languages, and have access to different resources; the NEXT Distro platform will respect and reflect this diversity.
Individuals with low levels of ‘technological literacy’ will be able to access harm reduction information easily.
We envision a platform where people who use drugs can find support, solidarity, and the tools to fight against stigma. We believe people who use drugs have the right to organize and leverage their political power to stop the drug war. We will ensure that people who use drugs have the supplies they need to keep themselves safe and well with a particular focus on communities who have been structurally shut out of the healthcare system, have no access to wealth (generational or otherwise), and have been been mistreated and discriminated against.
We will build partnerships with harm reduction programs across the country and will work to collaborate with community partners who support individuals who use drugs through non- judgemental medical and mental health care, and medication such as low-threshold buprenorphine.
As a not-for-profit, we move through funding environments aware of an ecosystem that pushes activists into bureaucracy. We remain committed to our principals and belief that social change will be funded by impacted communities. To that end, we need money to do this work and collaborate with funders committed to harm reduction and the empowerment of people who use drugs. Next Harm Reduction does not seek or accept funding that puts our mission at risk, puts our participants at risk, or requires overburdensome administrative requirements.